Why Scotch whisky is the UK’s leading commodity
Industry chief calls for duty cut in George Osborne's next budget to support distillers
Searching for a UK industry to raise your glass to? Look no further than Scotch whisky, which has seen its value to the UK economy increase by 1.6 per cent to more than £5bn.
According to a report from the Scotch Whisky Association, (SWA) the spirit is the leading commodity in terms of trade balance in the UK. The value of whisky exports was put at £4bn, with only £200m of its goods imported, giving it a trade balance of £3.8bn.
The industry is enjoying bumper levels of expansion, with nine new distilleries opening in the past two years and about 40 more in the pipeline. The sector supports more than 40,000 UK jobs and pays wages equivalent to more than £1.4bn.
Buoyed by the figures, the SWA said that the UK’s £35bn trade deficit would be around 11 per cent wider without the contribution of whisky. Chief executive David Frost claimed the figures re-emphasised the importance of the industry to the Scottish and wider UK economy.
Calling on the UK government to "redouble its efforts to support distillers", he adds: " At home, in the short term, a further two per cent duty cut in next month's budget would be a major boost, supporting small businesses that rely on the home market and further investment in the sector."
The United States remains the biggest export market for Scotch, with more than £326m shifted there in the first half of last year. Austerity measures in China have hurt sales but Asia is still seen as an attractive long-term market.