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SWA heads to Japan to insulate trade against Brexit

Published:  31 August, 2017

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief executive Karen Betts is this week joining the Prime Minister Theresa May and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox on a business delegation to Japan to ensure that trade  opportunities aren’t scuppered by Brexit.

Japan is an increasingly important and growing market for Scotch, currently ranking thirteenth in the list of the spirit’s biggest overseas markets.

Scotch exports to the country were worth £82.2 million last year, an increase of more than 8% on 2015, and up from £57m 10 years earlier in 2006.

The delegation is being used as an opportunity to discuss the future of the spirit in Japan and also an agreement in principle on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which was recently reached between the European Union and Japan, which would provide Geographical Indication protection for Scotch being sold in the country.

The SWA is aiming to maintain the trade arrangements of the EU-Japanese deal in the short term, and to look at an ambitious FTA between the UK and Japan in the longer term.

“Scotch Whisky has been popular in Japan for many years and this mature market is now expanding again. Certainty around trading arrangements with Japan after Brexit would help provide confidence and stability for the future. I’m sure this trip to Japan will prove interesting and worthwhile for the Scotch Whisky industry,” Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said.

According to the SWA, the Scotch is currently worth £5bn to the UK economy - £4bn of which is exports.