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Gillian Marles, consumer affairs correspondent
"The Scotch Whisky Association has enlisted support from the Scottish Executive"
 real 56k

Karen Prentice, Scotch Whisky Association
"There is a perception that if you are not a .com venture then you are not going to make it"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 14:38 GMT
Industry plea for whisky cuts
Whisky connoiseur
A billion bottles are drunk worldwide
The Scottish whisky industry has launched a strategy which aims to persuade Chancellor Gordon Brown to cut tax on the spirit.

The Scottish Executive and the Scotch Whisky Association teamed up on Wednesday to outline how they think the industry can be brought forward.

Leaders criticised the chancellor last week saying that the tax on spirits severely hampered whisky producers.

They want duty to be cut, bringing it into line with the tax on wine and beer.

Whisky being bottled
Whisky is important to the Scottish economy
Every year one billion bottles of scotch are consumed in 200 countries worldwide.

The whisky association says such success does not just happen by accident, but sales could be much higher.

The industry complains that tax on home-produced spirit is often higher than imported alcohol.

Tax accounts for 66% of the price of a typical bottle, costing the consumer about 7.

The SWA represents more than 95% of distillers, blenders, brand owners, brokers and exporters of Scotch whisky and membership ranges from small private companies to large international conglomerates.

Karen Prentice, of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "The problem in the UK is that whisky is taxed more heavily than any other alcoholic drink.

"There is a fundamental importance that we get the executive behind us regarding this hurdle we face in the UK market.

4% tax cut

"The Scottish Executive are our home government and if they are supporting us then that is really important. We are calling for a 4% cut this year and that is just the start - although we want to do things measure by measure.

"I don't think this is a simple PR exercise, it is a public relations exercise in that it shows our strength in the industry, but the executive has made several pledges.

"I think there is a perception that if you are not a .com venture then you are not going to make it, and there is a perception that traditional industries are in decline, but we are not in decline."

We have made representations to the Treasury over concerns on tax and will not hesitate to raise any other issues of concern which may arise

Ross Finnie, rural affairs minister
The new framework will look at ways of freeing up the international market and will call on the chancellor to think again about how Scotch is taxed.

Speaking at the strategy's launch at the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh, minister for rural affairs, Ross Finnie, said: "The importance of the Scotch whisky cannot be overstated. The industry's economic impact runs across a wide swathe of the Scottish economy - both urban and rural.

"The Scottish Executive is well aware of the major contribution the industry makes to Scotland - and that is one of the reasons why we are publishing the Scotch Whisky Framework today in partnership with the SWA.

"I realise that the whisky industry does not operate in a vacuum and the decisions made by Government can and do impact on the business community.

"We have made representations to the Treasury over industry concerns on tax and will not hesitate to raise any other issues of concern which may arise in the future."

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See also:

15 Nov 00 | Scotland
Whisky chiefs blast Brown
31 Aug 00 | Scotland
Last dram for Highland distillery
16 Nov 99 | Scotland
Whisky duty leaves sour taste
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