2011 SWA Annual Review

01 Nov 2011

The Scotch Whisky industry is in excellent health and I was honoured to take on the role of Chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) at the beginning of 2012.

I would like to thank Paul Walsh, my predecessor, for his leadership and for handing over the chairmanship to me at a time of unprecedented international success for the industry. Paul's dedication to the work of the Association shows the importance of Scotch Whisky to all member companies across the industry.

The industry's success is, of course, underpinned by the valuable support of the SWA, from breaking down trade barriers to campaigning on government policies and protecting Scotch Whisky from fakes around the world.

As you will read later in the Annual Report, exports of Scotch Whisky continue to grow as mature markets expand and demand increases from newer markets, such as South America and Asia.

However the industry must remain focused on challenges to future growth as economic uncertainty continues to stalk the global economy and alcohol and health concerns move up the political agenda at home and overseas.

Scotch Whisky is an iconic product and is a prime asset for Scotland and the UK on the international stage. It is one of the few Scottish exports found in every corner of the globe. The SWA will continue to fight for fairer taxation and removal of restrictions on trade - from addressing tax discrimination in Brazil to tackling excessive regulatory burdens in Russia - to allow its success to continue.

The SWA remains committed to promoting more responsible attitudes to alcohol as part of its wider social responsibility role. In the UK it is an active member of the Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership and the Public Health Responsibility Deal in England. In Europe, it is a founder member of the Alcohol and Health Forum and globally it is a driving force in the World Sprits Alliance.

At home, the Scottish Government pressed ahead with its plans for minimum unit pricing (MUP) and is on course to pass legislation before summer 2012. Evidence indicates that MUP will be ineffective in tackling alcohol misuse and is likely to be illegal. The Association will continue to advocate the legal alternative of a fair duty and tax system for all alcohol in combination with a floor price.

It remains a disappointment that the Scottish Government has pursued a policy which will damage the Scotch Whisky industry in domestic and overseas markets, where copycat trade restrictive measures are expected.

Despite such challenges, there are many opportunities ahead. The SWA marks its centenary in 2012. It will be a year to celebrate Scotch Whisky's strong heritage as an iconic product which is vital to the country's future economic performance.

Ian Curle, SWA Chairman