Scotch whisky exports to India jumped 41% in the first six months of 2016 – making it the third largest export market – but the industry remains uneasy over the implications and uncertainties of Britain’s June 23 vote to exit the European Union.
Figures released on Friday by the Edinburgh-based Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) showed that the volume of 70 cl bottles exported to India between January and June 2016 jumped to 41 million from 29.1 million in the same period in 2015.
This was the highest percentage rise in Scotch whisky exports in the top 20 markets during the period, with Japan registering the second largest growth of 20%, the SWA said.
“The growth of exports to India stood out, with value up 28% to £43 million. The SWA argued that the full potential of the Indian market would only be delivered through liberalisation of the exorbitant 150% basic customs duty, urging the UK government to prioritise discussions with India as it develops its post-Brexit trade priorities,” it said.
The EU did not succeed in negotiating a deal with India, but hoped the UK government would do better in the Brexit situation, the SWA added.
Despite continued economic and political volatility in some markets, Scotch whisky’s global export volume grew by 3.1% over the first half of the year, with the equivalent of 533 million 70cl bottles shipped overseas, up from 517 million bottles in the first half of 2015.
The new figures cover the first half of 2016 and only one week of the period after the EU referendum vote. The SWA pointed to long-term challenges of defining the UK’s future trading relationship with both the EU single market and other countries.
SWA chief executive David Frost said: “It is clear, however, that the uncertainties of the Brexit vote will create challenges for exporters and we continue to encourage early clarity on the likely shape of the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU and other countries.
“Given the continued international uncertainty, we also look to government to make every effort to put in place a competitive domestic tax and regulatory environment, supporting a key home-grown industry.”