The Scotch whisky industry is “looking forward” to a post-Brexit deal with Australia after the government revealed it could slash export tariffs by five per cent.
Australia bought £113 million of Scotch last year, making it the sector’s eighth-largest market.
Exports have more than doubled in the past decade, and sources believe that removing whisky tariffs could “boost growth” even further.
“Free trade deals that open up markets like Australia will be good for Glenkinchie, Johnnie Walker and the wider Scotch whisky industry,” Glenkinchie distillery manager Ramsay Borthwick said.
Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Karen Betts added that an agreement could bolster the legal protection of Scotch overseas.
“Stopping those who seek to take advantage of the quality reputation of Scotch Whisky with counterfeit Scotch is a priority for us in Australia,” she said.
The government believes the deal could open the door for British businesses into the Asia-Pacific free trade area.
It hopes to join the CPTPP – an £8.4 trillion trade bloc made up of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam – later this year.
“A UK-Australia trade agreement would be significant for Scotch whisky and the Union,” international trade minister Liz Truss said.
“Part of the promise of leaving the EU was striking deals with countries well beyond Europe, opening new opportunities for iconic British goods like Scotch overseas.”
Scottish secretary Alister Jack claimed the deal would prove “an important milestone in securing global opportunities for the UK”.
Despite broad optimism from the government and whisky industry, others have proved sceptical about the imminent trade agreement.
In particular, farmers fear being undercut by cheap imports with lower industry standards.
A survey last week revealed that eight in 10 consumers want imported food to meet UK rules on the environment and animal welfare.