Trade is a powerful engine for growth and jobs in Europe. According to the European Commission, each additional €1bn of exports supports 14,000 additional jobs across the EU, and the spirits sector is no exception. Our export success (€10.2bn in 2016) generates investment and employment in regions where our products are made. For example, small and large Scotch and Irish whisk(e)y producers have made important investments to meet the growing worldwide demand, like the creation of new distilleries. Investments are also being made in new bottling plants which have considerable knock-on benefits for other sectors, such as glass manufacturers, coopers, transporters and packagers.
The EU is considering strategies and policies to sustain growth and stability in today’s highly globalised economy. As far as international trade is concerned, our answer is to call for ‘more Europe’. The elimination of high import tariffs and other barriers such as discriminatory tax policy, insufficient intellectual property protection or complex custom procedures need to be addressed by the EU through the conclusion of ambitious Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with our main trading partners, a reinforced market access strategy, and credible enforcement mechanisms. Of course, while this would be advantageous to the large spirits producers, it is especially beneficial to the vast number of small craft distilleries working in the spirits sector. Independent or family owned distilleries who may not have the resources to compete internationally as of yet, might be able to after the implementation of the FTAs.