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WTO queries Indian tariffs on US wine

Published:  23 July, 2008

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is examining US claims that Indian import duties discriminate against US wines and spirits.

The WTO launched its investigation following a second request by the US for it to rule on fees that India applies to products such as Napa Valley wine and Jack Daniel's whiskey. The WTO is already reviewing a similar claim made by the EU.

Rules stipulate that the establishment of a WTO investigative panel can only be delayed once. India blocked the first request this month.

India's basic import duties on wine are 100%, while the tariff on spirits is 150%, both within WTO limits. But government surcharges take the tariffs as high as 550%, depending on the Indian state.

The state of Tamil Nadu is even more extreme, banning foreign alcohol and allowing shops to sell only Indian-made wines and spirits.

By contrast, the US, EU and Japan allow almost all spirits to enter their markets duty-free. China adds a 10% tax on foreign liquor.