The UK government has set its sights on reducing high tariffs to boost overseas trade in world-renowned UK products such as Scotch whisky.
Work is underway at the Department for International Trade (DIT) to make it easier for UK companies to benefit from further trading opportunities across the world post-Brexit.
The announcement comes as Scottish secretary David Mundell meets with representatives of the Scotch Whisky Association and Diageo at the iconic Caol Ila distillery in Islay today, to discuss how the UK government is laying the groundwork to reduce export tariffs on unique Scottish produce.
Tariffs can be particularly high in some markets, preventing UK businesses from making the most of the overseas demand for their products.
Now DIT officials are looking to see where future trade agreements and ties with key trading partners around the world could reduce export tariffs for iconic Scottish goods such as Scotch whisky, smoked salmon and gin.
For Scotch whisky, these tariffs can be over 150% of the value of the product. Tariffs on gin can reach similar levels, whilst smoked salmon tariffs average 13%.
DIT is also investigating how reductions in non-tariff barriers to trade – such as complex regulation and licensing rules – could form part of future negotiations in key markets, providing a further boost to British exports.
The UK exported over £300bn of goods in 2016, with the majority of these sent to non-EU countries, while 7 of the UK’s top 10 whisky export markets lie outside of the EU.
With whisky worth over £5bn to the UK economy and accounting for 20% of total food and drink exports, the UK government is ensuring that the industry is able to tackle the tariffs and boost overseas sales post-brexit.
International trade secretary Dr Liam Fox said: “With the recent uplift in trade, we should raise a glass to our exporting success and further help UK businesses make the most of an ever-growing demand for top-selling British products such as Scotch whisky as part of a Global Britain.
“Reducing the costs for companies to sell overseas will become one way of further opening up free trade routes and boosting sales, and that’s why I’ve tasked my international economic department to look at how we can support more businesses to build their brands abroad.”
David Mundell said: “Scotch whisky is a world-class product, globally recognised for its quality and heritage, and the industry employs thousands of people in Scotland and around the rest of the UK.
We are determined to open up new markets around the world for the very best whisky our distillers have to offer – and to drive down any tariffs they face.”