The European Parliament is expected to approve a new free trade agreement which could boost Scotch whisky exports to Colombia and Peru.

MEPs are voting on plans to remove tariffs on most EU-produced spirits exported to the two countries. Scotch whisky exports to Colombia and Peru currently amount to USD67,485,600  a year.

MEPs are also debating a separate agreement which would make it cheaper to sell Scotch whisky in six Central American countries. The Scotch Whisky Association said it backed the deals.

The European Union’s proposed free trade agreement would eliminate a 15% tariff on EU spirits to Colombia and a 9% tariff to Peru.

Scotch Whisky would also be recognised and protected.

The European Union is also on track to back an association agreement with Central American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama which would result in tariffs on all EU spirits, except rum, being eliminated over time.

Speaking ahead of the votes, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told BBC Scotland the agreements were very significant.

“This is, together, a very big trade and political move for the European Union and the countries concerned,” he said.

“These are very interesting markets for Scotch whisky. For Peru the trade will be immediately liberalised so the tariffs will immediately disappear.

“For Colombia there will be a transitional period for 10 years, whereby you gradually diminish the tariffs, and for Central America you have a transitional period of six years.”

He added: “But in all three cases this is opening up substantial new markets for Scotch whisky.”