Scotch Whisky is an international drink consumed in over 180 markets across the world. With 90% of Scotch exported, Brexit could have a fundamental impact on our industry - both in the EU27 market - and in emerging markets further afield.

EU rules impact on almost every facet of trade in Scotch Whisky. EU laws on spirits definitions, labelling, geographical indications, bottle sizes and the movement of excise products, together with the EU's trade policy agenda, have meant that the Scotch Whisky Association has long been very active on EU policy. Indeed, as the UK exits the EU, it has never been more important to engage clearly with UK and EU negotiators about our priorities than it is now.

We strongly welcome the political agreement reached by the UK and EU in March 2018, which confirms there will be a transition period running until the end of 2020 to help smooth the Brexit process. December 2020 is a tight deadline that should be reviewed if necessary. Businesses should not have to make changes to their systems and operating procedures twice, and every effort should be made to avoid disruption to trade at the end of the transition period.

Looking ahead, the UK's new partnership with the EU must reflect the existing, inter-linked nature of the UK-EU economic relationship. Our focus must be to have continued excellent access to the EU market so that Scotch Whisky can thrive post-Brexit, and importantly, to maintain a high degree of regulatory alignment with our closest neighbours. Whilst we are not tied to any particular Brexit model, each of which have their own drawbacks, our preference would be for the UK to negotiate a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU.

Brexit represents a seismic shift for our industry and one which our members are working hard to plan and adjust for. We are, however, confident that Scotch Whisky will continue to flourish, through Brexit and beyond.

The Scotch Whisky industry's latest Brexit priorities document is available to read or download here.