Independence would hit Scotland's key whisky sector

GMT 16:29 2014 Wednesday ,17 September

Arab Today, arab today Independence would hit Scotland's key whisky sector

Scotch whisky from a shelf in the Deoch
London - AFP

Independence will likely have a negative short-term impact on Scotland's emblematic whisky industry, according to a study by Dutch lender Rabobank released on the eve of Thursday's crucial vote.
"The short-term benefits of a 'Yes' vote are small, while the downside risks are significant," analyst Elena Saputo wrote in a note on Wednesday.
Scotland’s best-loved export -- its second most-lucrative after hydrocarbons -- could suffer from impeded access to international markets, particularly the European Union, which accounts for 37 percent of Scotch exports.
The question of whether an independent Scotland will be able to join the EU remains a thorny issue.
Independence could also weigh heavy on the price of raw materials used in making the drink, according to the bank.
Without the support of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), "it is uncertain whether Scottish farmers will be able to produce sufficient amounts of barley," added the report.
Other potential drawbacks include uncertainty around what currency the new country would use, the risk of rising interest rates and increased import tariffs in its core markets.
The industry has, over recent months, warned of the effects of a leap into the unknown.
In its annual review, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said that a temporary exclusion from the EU and its markets would be "damaging and difficult to manage".
Whisky exports were worth £4.3 billion ($7 billion, 5.4 billion euros) to Scotland in 2013, and the sector employs around 35,000 workers, according to the SWA.
"The exact impact of independence will be as much determined by the actions of the Scottish government following the vote, as by the vote itself," concluded the bank.


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