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SWA welcomes discussions on Thai duty rates

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) has welcomed EU calls for a re-evaluation of current duty rates on whisky in Thailand.

The EU has requested World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks to bring Thailand's customs valuation system into line with international trade rules.

According to the European Commission, Thailand has adopted an arbitrary value for products imported into the country rather than the declared product price.

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said: "These measures are arbitrary and damaging for EU companies seeking to do business in Thailand. We believe they are not compatible with WTO rules."

"We believe it will be possible to resolve this issue quickly and amicably," he added.

The SWA feels this practice - adopted since September 2006 - has penalised Scotch Whisky distillers by artificially increasing import tariff payments or forcing the importer to lodge large bank guarantees pending resolution of the dispute.

Martin Bell, the SWA's International Affairs Manager, commented: "WTO rules clearly set out how Thai Customs should assess imported spirits for tariff and tax purposes.

"Officials have, however, failed to justify the implementation of a regime which is unfairly acting as a barrier to the import of Scotch Whisky and other spirit drinks, ultimately restricting consumer choice in Thailand."