Happy New Year!
In need of some good news at the start of the year? Looking at 2018, we’re happy to report that the market fundamentals for our sector have remained strong: Cognac exports have continued their upward trajectory, with value sales reaching €3.2bn in 2018, a growth of 2% compared to 2017. In Ireland, the Whiskey Renaissance is in full bloom, with increased demand in- and outside Europe. Exports were up by 8%, mainly to the US. The number of distilleries in Ireland has grown from 4 in the early 2000s to 21 last year, attracting more than 900,000 visitors in 2018 – a touristic force to reckon with! And of course, Scotch Whisky, our leading category, is not lagging behind either! Growing demand for gin led to a prosperous 2018 in many markets and to the emergence additinal new craft distillers in many rural parts of Europe. The cocktail culture continues to drive part of the spirit market growth, and this is not expected to stop, as companies continue to innovate and offer consumers tools to master this wonderful art at home.
All of this happened against a policy environment marked by growing risks and uncertainties at home and abroad. In 2019, it will be increasingly difficult to shield the positive economic developments in our sector entirely from them. Yet we hope and call on policy makers to avoid, or at least limit, any potential negative spillover effects.
Regarding the persisting uncertainties over the EU-US trade relationship (our first export market, with 60% increase in exports in value over the last decade), we greatly appreciate the Commission’s efforts to normalise the EU-US relationship and maintain the dialogue to secure a long-term positive outcome for an open and fair trade between two major trading blocs and to save the crucial role of the WTO.
As we speak, nobody knows what will eventually happen with Brexit, yet legal uncertainty is the worse situation to be in. We therefore call on political leaders on both side of the Channel to remain fully committed to further dialogue and to avoid a no-deal scenario.
Within the EU, we hope for a strong commitment of the next European Commission and Parliament to a jobs and growth agenda, to a functioning Single Market, and an ambitious trade policy.
With such a policy agenda in place, we remain pretty confident that the good economic news from our sector will keep coming!
*In his capacity as permanent representative of SPRL ADLOR Consulting