The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has stepped up calls for a further 2 per cent cut in excise duty in next month’s Budget.

The trade body said new figures demonstrated that the drink is the biggest net contributor to UK trade in goods.

Exports are worth almost £4 billion, while imports such as packaging for products and casks for maturing the spirit are £200 million, giving the industry a trade balance of £3.8bn.

“Scotch whisky is now the number one contributor to the UK’s balance of trade in goods and that the trade deficit would be 11 per cent higher without whisky exports.”

SWA said the UK’s trade deficit of almost £35bn would be 11 per cent larger without the contribution of the industry.

Last year Chancellor George Osborne announced a 2 per cent tax cut, a year after a spirits duty freeze and scrapping of the alcohol escalator in 2014.

The industry said that, despite the improvement, tax on an average priced bottle of whisky still stands at an “onerous” 76 per cent.

SWA chief executive David Frost said: “These figures re-emphasise how significant the Scotch whisky industry is to the Scottish and wider UK economy, adding more than £5 billion of value and supporting around 40,000 jobs.

“But it may surprise some people that Scotch whisky is now the number one contributor to the UK’s balance of trade in goods and that the trade deficit would be 11 per cent higher without whisky exports.

“Given the scale and impact of the Scotch whisky industry, we believe the Government should re-double its efforts to support distillers.

“At home, in the short term, a further 2 per cent duty cut in next month’s Budget would be a major boost, supporting small businesses that rely on the home market and further investment in the sector.”

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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