The director general of foreign trade in India has turned down the pleas of the international drinks companies and the efforts of the European Union to advance the date for removal of the quantitative restrictions and a reduction of import tariffs on liquor products.

The director general NL Lakhanpal disclosed yesterday that his office would adhere to the March 31, 2001 deadline and continue with the present tariff of 210%.

The international liquor lobby with the help of the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) has been attempting to seek a tariff reduction to 150%.

The decision by Lakhanpal has been taken to shore up the domestic industry before it faces competition from the multinationals. He said that India has until 2005 to reduce tariffs to the 150% level.

Earlier this month delegates from the Indian local drinks industry met with commerce officials to contend that reduction in the import tariff would seriously impair both their premium and volume business as well as leading to dumping of cheap products.