THE SCOTTISH Government has been urged to ban the US military from using Prestwick until Donald Trump ditches plans to slap a 25% tariff on Scotch whisky.

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

Goods being 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 £280 million.

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

READ MORE: The Airbus and Boeing rivalry that threatens Scotch whisky

Nicola Sturgeon said news of the tariffs was “profoundly worrying”.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), has described the situation as “serious”.

SWA 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.”

During First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood yesterday, Sturgeon tolds MSPs: “The news this morning is profoundly worrying for Scotch whisky and for the other Scottish products.

“I discussed the issue directly with the [Scotch Whisky Association] just a couple of weeks ago and we will continue to encourage the UK Government to support a negotiated settlement to this.

“We support the efforts of the EU to find that negotiated settlement.

“It is in no-one’s interest to have trade wars like this – everyone ends up being a loser.

“I would encourage UK ministers to work hard to do so.”

A Department for International Trade spokesman said: “The UK, through the EU, is seeking confirmation from the WTO that we have complied fully with WTO rulings regarding support to Airbus, and should not be subject to tariffs.”

In the Commons, the Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Whisky, urged the UK government to call a debate or have an urgent statement on the tariffs.

Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, replied to say the tariffs were an example of how the UK will benefit from Brexit.

O’Hara said: “The tariffs affect jobs, investment and growth, so may we have an urgent statement and debate in Government time to highlight the massive importance of the Scotch whisky industry to the UK economy? What steps will the Government take to tackle the issue and protect this vital industry?”

Rees-Mogg replied: “The great advantage of leaving the European Union is that once we are outside the European Union, we will not be punished for the failures of the EU.”

He added: “This action has been taken because of a World Trade Organisation judgment. The WTO has ruled against the European Union giving subsidies to Airbus.

“If we were not part of the European Union, we could have separate agreements with the United States and no extra duty on Scotch whisky, which would be very good.”