Scotch Whisky Association urges U.S. and EU to end trade stand-off

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Scottish government and the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) urged the United States and the EU on Tuesday to end a trade dispute after Washington threatened tariffs on $4 billion of goods including Scotland’s most famous export.

The U.S. increased the pressure on Europe on Monday when it threatened tariffs on $4 billion of additional EU goods, including olives, Italian cheese and Scotch whisky.

“Exports of Scotch Whisky to the US have been zero-tariff for 20 years so it is disappointing that (it) has been drawn into this dispute,” an SWA spokesman said.

“The Scotch Whisky industry has consistently opposed the imposition of tariffs, which harms economies on both sides of the Atlantic which depend on trade for their continued prosperity ... We continue to urge the UK government, the EU and the US government to resolve this situation.”

Whisky exports were worth 4.7 billion pounds ($5.7 billion)to Britain in 2018, its biggest food and drink export ahead of salmon, chocolate and cheese. The United States was by far the industry’s biggest export market, with a value of just over 1 billion pounds.

The industry is dominated by multinationals like Diageo DGE.L and Pernod Ricard PERP.PA and has been an export sector for centuries.

Scotland, home to two of the golf courses owned by U.S. President Donald Trump, has over 120 malt and grain distilleries, giving it the greatest concentration of whisky production in the world.

Scotland’s devolved government said it was “deeply concerned” that Scotch whisky was being implicated in the dispute.

“We are calling on the UK government to make urgent representations to the EU to ensure that Scotch Whisky is not collateral damage to this long-term dispute between the EU and the U.S.,” a spokesman said.

Reporting by Alistair Smout and Kate Holton; additional reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and James Davey; editing by Stephen Addison