REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) urged the United States and the European Union on Tuesday to end a trade dispute after Washington threatened tariffs on $4 billion of goods including Scotland’s most famous export.

The US increased the pressure on Europe on Monday when it threatened tariffs on $4 billion (£3.2 billion) of additional EU goods, including olives, Italian cheese and Scotch whisky.

“Exports of Scotch Whisky to the US have been zero-tariff for 20 years so it is disappointing that (it) has been drawn into this dispute,” an SWA spokesman said.

“The Scotch Whisky industry has consistently opposed the imposition of tariffs, which harms economies on both sides of the Atlantic which depend on trade for their continued prosperity … We continue to urge the UK government, the EU and the US government to resolve this situation.”

Whisky exports were worth £4.7 billion to Britain in 2018, its biggest food and drink export ahead of salmon, chocolate and cheese. The United States was by far the industry’s biggest export market, with a value of just over £1 billion.

The industry is dominated by multinationals like Diageo and Pernod Ricard and has been an export sector for centuries.

Scotland, home to two of the golf courses owned by US President Donald Trump, has over 120 malt and grain distilleries, giving it the greatest concentration of whisky production in the world.