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India to face WTO over discriminatory tax on imported whisky

Published:  23 July, 2008

Scotch Whisky distillers have welcomed the EU's decision to request World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks on India's failure to reform its discriminatory tax treatment of imported spirits and wines.

A recent EU investigation into the Indian regime found blatant violations' of WTO rules. The system unfairly distorts competition by subjecting Scotch whisky and other imported spirits to a much higher tax burden - of up to 550% - than faced by Indian distillers.

Following further talks between the SWA and Indian Government officials in Delhi last week, Gavin Hewitt, the SWA chief executive, said: The EU's determination to ensure a level playing field for spirits and wines in India will be warmly welcomed by Scotch whisky distillers, who continue to face a long-standing discriminatory tariff and tax regime that has been found to be in clear violation of WTO rules.

It is time for India to implement its international commitments and allow fair access for Scotch Whisky, just as Indian spirit drinks have free access to the European market,' he said.

We fully support referral of the matter to the WTO for formal consultations and hope that India will take this last opportunity to agree reform to its discriminatory duty arrangements for whisky, without the need for a dispute settlement panel being set up,' said Hewitt.