The Government take very seriously the punitive US tariffs on UK goods, including on single malt Scotch whisky. We are fighting for the removal of all such tariffs and are pushing for a negotiated settlement to the underlying World Trade Organisation civil aviation cases. The Secretary of State raised these issues most recently with US trade representative Ambassador Lighthizer in September.
Exactly a year ago, the United States imposed 25% tariffs on Scotch malt whisky, devastating exports and threatening thousands of Scottish jobs. Despite the Minister’s Department making the removal of those damaging tariffs a priority, his Government have failed to move their special friend in the White House an inch on these issues. Could he explain exactly why the Scotch whisky industry, apart from being £360 million poorer, is in exactly the same place today as it was a year ago?
I thank the hon. Member for that question. We oppose these tariffs vigorously. We are stepping up talks with the US and we were pleased that in August the US did not extend the tariffs to blended whisky, and actually removed them from shortbread. The irony is that the Scottish National party are urging us to enter into direct trade talks with the US—something that we are already doing, but something that we would not be able to do if we followed its policy of rejoining the European Union. I just remark on the SNP’s chutzpah in urging us to do something to which it is fundamentally opposed: engage directly with the United States on trade policy.