LEGAL protection of Scottish whisky would be “a real boost” if included in the final details of the newly-announced UK-Australian free trade deal, an industry body has said.

The deal announced by Boris Johnson and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison would make Scotland’s national drink cheaper to sell down under.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has welcomed the move, which eliminates a 5% tariff for the industry’s eighth-largest market, but called for legal protections over its status to be included in any final arrangement.

Karen Betts, SWA chief executive, said: “It’s very good to see the removal of the 5% tariff on Scotch Whisky in the Agreement in Principle between the UK and Australia.

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“This will help Scotch whisky distillers continue to expand exports to Australia, which have almost doubled over the last decade, making Australia our eighth-largest market by value.

“It’s also important to us that trade with Australia is now tariff-free for Scotch whisky – our preference is always for tariff-free trade, which enables Scotch whisky to compete on a level playing field and on the strength of our reputation for quality.

She added: “We await further details of the Agreement in Principle. A framework for addressing regulatory barriers to trade with Australia, to ensure greater legal protection and tax fairness for Scotch whisky, is also important to us, and – if delivered in this agreement – will be a real boost for the industry.”

An arrangement for tariff-free trade of goods and continued protection of Scottish whisky’s protections has already been settled between the EU and UK.

The bloc accounts for around a third of all exports of the spirit – its largest regional market, worth £1.26 billion annually.

Scotland exported £126 million of beverages to Australia in 2020 and the UK Government claims this deal will help distillers by removing tariffs of up to 5%. It comes after the SWA said earlier this year that exports of whisky fell by more than £1.1bn in 2020 – to the lowest level in a decade.