India will likely have to agree to lower import tariffs on wine and spirits if it wants to secure a free trade agreement with the European Union. 

Talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the EU and India have been ongoing since 2007, but the two sides hope to reach a deal following a planned summit in February. A spokesperson for the European Commission told just-drinks today (3 January) that wine and spirits taxes are part of the process.

"Wines and spirits are part of the ongoing discussions and are one of the EU's offensive interests," the spokesperson said. He declined to comment on the extent or scope of the EU's demands on India's import tariffs, "as this is currently under negotiation".

Late last month, a report out of India said that the country's Government would accept cuts to import duty on wines and spirits. However, this has not been confirmed. 

In November last year, the Scotch Whisky Association's (SWA) CEO, Gavin Hewitt, embarked on a lobbying mission to India. The SWA said that there is currently a 150% tariff on imported spirits in India, which means that a GBP10 (US$15.6) bottle of Scotch costs GBP25 even before it reaches distribution channels.