“No-brainer”: Carmichael presses ministers to prioritise whisky tariffs in India negotiations

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has challenged international trade ministers in Parliament to prioritise the lowering of Indian tariffs on Scottish whisky in trade negotiations. India currently imposes 150% tariffs on Scottish whisky, like those of the Highland Park and Scapa distilleries, rendering the product prohibitively expensive for most consumers, while the Scotch Whisky Association has outlined a range of benefits to expanding UK exports to the country.

Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:

“May I bring the Secretary of State’s attention to the analysis published recently by the Scotch whisky industry, showing that even a phased reduction of the 150% tariffs on its products sold into industry could bring back a £1 billion increase in exports and something in the region of 1,300 UK jobs? As she continues with the dialogue with India about a trade deal, will she give us some commitment that the reduction and elimination of that tariff would be one of her biggest priorities in an early harvest agreement?”

Responding, Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP said:

“The negotiations with our Indian counterparts have just begun. We will not discuss the details of the negotiations while they are going on, but I have been very clear with the Indians and through our consultation process that we will want to see movement on issues such as high tariffs on some of our iconic UK products.”

Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:

“We know that when tariffs are lowered, Scottish whisky producers thrive in new markets, with benefits to the wider industry and jobs. By volume India is the single-biggest consumer of whisky in the world but Scottish exports are hampered by the current weight of tariffs. Securing a phased lowering of those tariffs would be a no-brainer for the government – this must be a priority.”

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