Scotch shows the way in Latin America

Scotch whisky has recognised the advantages of trading with Latin America and, in particular, targeting its growing middle class population.

This was the conclusion of a conference arranged by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and Canning House, a leading UK forum on Latin American politics, economics and business in Edinburgh last night (February 10).

The conference was held to explain the advantages of trading with this region. It was the first Canning House trade and business-focussed forum in Scotland.

Keynote speaker, Colombia ambassador HE Nestor Osorio Londoño, addressed the audience at the Scotch Whisky Experience, on the opportunities now and in the future. He said Colombia is working to promote exports and imports and is creating a solid base for developing trust and confidence.

He said the four countries in the Pacific Alliance trading group – Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Chile – formed a large market to facilitate the free movement of goods, services and capital in the region. He is hopeful other ‘like-minded’ countries will join the Alliance.

Canning House chief executive, Rob Capurro put the growth of the middle class in Latin America into context. “If you total up all of the middle class in Latin America, there are more than in India and China combined,” he said.

Latin America is a significant market for scotch whisky which is said to be popular among young middle class people in developing markets.

The SWA says some £460 million of scotch whisky is exported to the region, one in every six bottles shipped overseas. Scotch now forms a third of all Scottish exports to Latin America.

SWA chief executive David Frost said: “Latin America is a big and growing market. That’s why we took the lead in making the first Canning House event in Scotland happen.”

Diageo industry affairs director, Peter Smith, said that scotch has been traded in the region for many years and his company archive includes orders from the early 1900s. But he added that such issues as tariffs and customs duties had to be tackled, partly because they are an incentive for alcohol to be sold through unofficial channels.

Concluding the evening, Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, said Scotland is ready to do business and that this is a great opportunity. She described whisky as one of Scotland’s ‘greatest assets’ that, along with the country’s warm welcome, creates a unique selling point to help us forge friendships overseas.

Picture: Colombia ambassador HE Nestor Osorio Londoño, (left) and SWA chief David Frost