The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has joined the Organisation for International Geographical Indications Network (Origin).

SWA is the first UK group to join the Geneva-based non-profit organisation, which campaigns globally to improve protection for geographical indications (GIs).

Origin was established in 2003 in response to what it said was increasing abuse of GIs. It now represents 350 producer associations in 40 countries. By joining the group, the SWA aims to promote Scotch whisky as a product that must be made in Scotland.

“Geographical indications such as Scotch whisky have become very important in world trade,” said SWA chief executive David Frost. “Protecting GIs is not just about intellectual property, it is also about protecting cultural heritage and employment, particularly in rural areas.

“Origin is very important in facilitating and co-ordinating the interests of GIs around the world. We are delighted to expand our international connections by working with the organisation.”

Origin chief executive Massimo Vittori said: “We are very pleased to have a group such as the SWA – with its outstanding experience in protecting and promoting the GI Scotch whisky around the world – as a member of our worldwide network.”