A government minister has warned more than £1 billion in Scotch whisky exports could be at risk if the UK leaves the European Union.
Environment secretary Liz Truss said distillers could face trade barriers in Europe and described leaving the EU as a “leap in the dark” for the British food and drinks industry.
Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief executive David Frost supported her views alongside Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes.
“Europe has a taste for Scotch and the industry will do better if we remain in the EU because whisky producers have hassle free, easy access to the single market of 500 million people,” said Truss.
“I want the industry to continue to be the powerhouse it has become across the world – boosting our economy and creating jobs.
“Leaving the EU would be a leap in the dark for our great British food and drink industry and the wealth it brings to us all through jobs and investment will be stronger, safer and better off within a reformed EU.”
Frost emphasised the importance of the European market for Scotch whisky, which supports approximately 40,000 jobs throughout the UK and gnerates around £5bn for the economy.
“The single market, including its regulation of food and drink, and its single trade policy are central to the success of Scotch,” added Frost.
“It lets us trade across the EU simply and easily and helps give us fairer access to other overseas markets.”
It was also noted that the cost of re-labelling if Britain were to leave the EU could amount to around £3,000 per Scotch whisky line exported abroad.
“Diageo – and specifically our Scotch whisky business – benefits greatly from the UK’s membership of the EU and we strongly believe that we should remain within that union,” said Menezes.
“The single market gives us a level playing field and opens access across the EU, while the EU’s clout in international trade helps to open up new markets with agreements favourable to the UK, reducing tariffs and resolving trade disputes.
“This drives significant value for us and the wider Scotch whisky industry, sustaining jobs and growth at home.”
Last month, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) officially endorsed the UK’s membership in the EU ahead of this year’s referendum.
Meanwhile back in February, Chivas Brothers and Diageo were among business leaders who signed an open letter encouraging Britain to stay in the EU.
information taken from the spirits business.