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Find out how the SWA is helping the Scotch Whisky industry navigate Brexit.

The Scotch Whisky industry on the Brexit deal

In December 2020, the Scotch Whisky industry welcomed the deal agreed between the UK Government and the EU, which allowed for tariff-free trade of goods, continued protection of Scotch Whisky’s GI, and a framework for continued cooperation between the UK and its largest trading bloc. The EU accounts for around a third of all Scotch Whisky exports: our largest regional market, worth £1.26bn annually.

Commenting as the UK and EU agreed a free trade deal on 24th December 2020, Scotch Whisky Association Chief Executive Karen Betts said:

“It’s very good news that the UK and EU have agreed a free trade deal, providing Scotch Whisky producers with more certainty about how we continue to export to our largest regional market.

“We will now need a common-sense approach to the application of new rules and new border procedures from 1 January to help businesses manage the transition smoothly. The UK Government and EU Member States will need to be flexible with producers, logistics companies and importers as they get to grips with the significant changes that will take effect in just 7 days’ time.”

Update: Spring 2021

Like a number of other industries, Scotch Whisky is now having to rapidly adjust to new post-Brexit trading laws. Some member companies have reported delays or disruption to their shipments since January 1st, due to increased cost and complexity of exporting from outside the EU.

Issues seen by some Scotch Whisky companies include:

  • Requests for additional paperwork for some key European markets, including certification documents which were not previously needed.
  • Some importers have requested additional information on commercial documents which should not be required for Scotch Whisky, such as exporter statements of origin.
  • Shipping to Northern Ireland continues to be a concern for the industry: there are still some important labelling complications that need to be resolved.
  • Significant difficulties and delays with accessing groupage services to move Scotch Whisky to the EU.

How the SWA is supporting our members

The Scotch Whisky Association is working with our members to identify where more clarity is needed for them to navigate the extra processes now required to export to the EU. We are continuing to liaise with the UK and Scottish Governments to resolve the issues reported by companies, and to emphasise the need for flexibility and patience on both sides of the channel as importers, exporters and logistics companies get to grips with the new trading arrangements.

news & commentary

15 November 2018

SWA statement on Withdrawal Agreement

Our industry has consistently called for clarity over what that UK's new relationship with the EU will look like in practice, particularly on the continued protection of geographical indications, customs procedures and future trade policy.

04 September 2018

Karen Betts Speech to Scotsman Food & Drink Conference

The water of life: how Scotland's national drink is confronting new challenges to thrive beyond Brexit

03 May 2018

Scotch Whisky looks for continued growth through Brexit

The Scotch Whisky industry's recent growth must be maintained beyond Brexit, delegates at the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) conference heard today.

23 March 2018

Scotch Whisky Association welcomes Brexit transition agreement

The Scotch Whisky Association has set out the priorities for the Scotch Whisky industry as the Brexit transition agreement is set to be approved by EU leaders.

02 March 2018

Comment on PM Brexit speech

"The Prime Minister's speech has taken us closer to the clarity which key industries like Scotch Whisky require if we are to mitigate the risks and harness the opportunities of Brexit.

15 December 2017

SWA comment on Brexit transition

SWA welcomes the clear progress made in the first phase of the Brexit negotiations

03 May 2017

Growing Scotch Whisky in a time of change

29 March 2017

SWA Article 50/Brexit statement

13 March 2017

SWA response to FM speech on independence referendum