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Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has urged American ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, to intervene in the trade war between the EU and the US which has led to a 25 per cent tariff being placed on Scotch whisky exports to the United States.
Lochaber has a number of whisky distilleries, at least one of which has already gone public with its concern and disappointment over the new tariffs.
Mr Cameron has written to Mr Johnson expressing his concern for the local whisky industry, particularly small distilleries.
The Scottish Conservative MSP said: ‘The bonds of family and friendship between the United States and the Highlands and Islands go back many generations.
‘And that enduring link is very well symbolised by the enduring popularity of Scotch whisky with many millions of discerning American consumers.
‘It is therefore hugely disappointing that a trade dispute with the EU over airliners is threatening to put this fantastic product out of the reach of some of those consumers.
‘I very much hope the ambassador is able to make representations so the tariffs can be withdrawn and our friends across the water can continue to enjoy a dram at a reasonable price.’
In his letter, Mr Cameron highlights the fact that the value of Scotch whisky exports to the US grew from £280m in 1994 to over £1bn last year, and the industry supports more than 7,000 jobs in rural parts of Scotland.
Many of these jobs, he tells Mr Johnson, are in the Highlands and Islands region he represents and, while he understands this tariff decision was taken in response to a trade dispute between the United States government and the European Union over aircraft subsidies and he respects decisions taken by other governments, he is also deeply concerned about the long-term impact this will have on the Highlands, and many of the smaller distilleries within it in particular.
‘I would be very appreciative if you could consider the contents of my letter, and make the appropriate representations with the relevant bodies within the United States Government to ensure Scotch whisky can continue to be purchased by American consumers, at a reasonable price, and help to
support the producers in Scotland so that they can continue to grow and thrive,’ Mr Cameron writes.