The export figure represents average sales of around €1.2 million an hour and with spirits exports exceeding imports into the European Union, the sector effectively generated nearly €9 billion in net value.
Looking ahead, future growth will greatly depend on the EU’s capacity to conclude ambitious trade deals and open up new markets while defending Europe’s interests by avoiding further escalation of tensions with leading trading partners.
The results show just how much European spirit drinks are appreciated around the world, said Ulrich Adam, Director General of spiritsEurope, the European representative body for the spirits industry (comprising 31 associations and eight multinationals).
He also pointed out that during the last months and days, the trade ‘narrative’ has become increasingly difficult, with fresh challenges emerging.
“Now, more than ever, is the moment to trust the value of rules-based trade relationships and the mutual benefits they create for those who engage in them,” he stated, “The success of Europe’s spirits sector shows that trade works. We therefore need an assertive, positive EU trade agenda that accelerates new trade negotiations with additional countries.”
Brexit has opened up a new complexity for the European spirit sector. Marie Audren, Trade & Economic Affairs Director at spiritsEurope, explained that the EU “shared links and interests with the UK, both human and corporate”.
As such it was counting on progress being made at the recent Council meeting to preserve the “prosperous trade flows and business links that unite the EU27 and the UK”.
spiritsEurope’s Trade Review calls for “no hard border in Ireland. The Irish whisky and spirits industry operates on an all-island basis with seamless cross-border supply chains” and stresses that “these are protected from dividing rules or disruptive excise or tax requirements”.