THE Scottish Government has been urged to ban the US military from using Prestwick Airport until Donald Trump ditches his 25% tariff on Scotch whisky.

Last night the World Trade Organisation (WTO) gave the US permission to impose tariffs on up to $7.5bn of EU goods in the latest stage of a 15-year battle over European subsidies given to plane-maker Airbus.

Goods potentially targeted by the Trump administration include cheeses, cashmere sweaters, dairy products, pork, books and single malt Scotch whisky.

More than $1.3bn Scotch whisky was exported to the US last year. HMRC data shows the US market accounted for 22% of global value and 10.7% of global volumes of Scotch exports in 2018.

The last time there were tariffs on Scotch, some 25 years ago, the value of exports was just £280m.

The industry directly employs about 11,000 people in Scotland, with many more indirectly through its supply chain.

The Scotch Whisky Association has described the situation as “serious”.

Chief executive Karen Betts said: "This is a blow to the Scotch whisky industry.

"Despite the fact that this dispute is about aircraft subsidies, our sector has been hit hard, with single malt Scotch whisky representing over half of the total value of UK products on the US Government tariff list.

"The tariff will undoubtedly damage the Scotch whisky sector.

"We expect to see a negative impact on investment and job creation in Scotland, and longer-term impacts on productivity and growth across the industry and our supply chain.

"We believe the tariff will also have a cumulative impact on consumer choice."

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer called for ministers in Edinburgh to take retaliatory action.

He said: “Prestwick Airport is owned by Scottish ministers on behalf of the public. We know it is used for live US military missions across the globe and we now know the role it has played in personally enriching Donald Trump by directing business towards his Turnberry resort, in some cases without mentioning a single other hotel despite dozens being far closer to the airport.

“The Scottish Government should have broken these links with the American military machine long ago and certainly as soon as Donald Trump was sworn in as Commander in Chief. With these tariffs set to hit our whisky industry hard, likely costing jobs across Scotland, the government should show leadership and respond by suspending use of its airport by the US military. That will certainly catch Mr Trump’s attention and make clear that this attack on the Scottish economy, over a dispute which has nothing to do with us, is not acceptable.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "When Scotland's food and drink businesses are facing the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit, the last thing they need is the further uncertainty of increased tariffs on exports to US.

"We have made our concerns about the impact on whisky and other Scottish produce clear to UK ministers and expect them to do all they can to protect Scottish exports.

"We will continue to work with key partners, including the Scotch Whisky Association, to support the industry and minimise potential tariffs."

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland secretary, said: "This is a troubling glimpse into the post-Brexit future and everyone with the Scottish economy's best interests at heart should be concerned about our prospects following this development.

"The collective strength we have in the EU trading bloc will be gone and there is simply no such thing as a 'special relationship' with the United States - Trump will squeeze the UK economy for everything he can get.

"That's why we have consistently called on the UK Government to bring forward measures to defend whisky and white spirits manufacturing in the face of Brexit uncertainty and to stand up to US demands on the removal of the geographical indicator protection for single malt production."