SCOTCH whisky industry representatives are heading to the US for crunch trade talks amid fears of a further hike in tariffs on single malts.

The US imposed a 25% duty on Scotch whisky and liqueurs on October 18 as part of a long-running dispute at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over aircraft subsidies.

A review of tariffs is now being carried out by the Office of the US Trade Representative, which could result in rates on single malts increasing.

Single malt exports across the Atlantic are worth more than £1 billion every year.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), will travel to Washington DC to discuss import tariffs with key stakeholders.

She said: “There’s real concern about a rise in tariffs on Scotch whisky – a further rise could be devastating to distillers.

“We will speak to the US Government and urge it to lift the tariffs altogether – they are damaging the sector on both sides.

“Tariffs on whisky products also has an impact on the American economy. Price rises impact sales, which impacts on investment and jobs, and also has an effect on taxes.”

The talks will be held in collaboration with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (Discus).

Meetings have been arranged with senior representatives from the US departments of trade, commerce and agriculture, aiming to increase the pressure on the Trump administration for the removal of whisky from the trade dispute.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to remove tariffs on US whiskey once the UK leaves the EU.

Rates on Scotch whisky account for 62% of the total UK tariff bill, according to the SWA.