The Indian government is considering a more liberal licensing regime for the import and manufacture of spirits, as part of a programme to protect the domestic drinks industry from the influx of bottled foreign liquor after quantitative restrictions (QRs) cease to exist from April 1 next year. The directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) recently advised the department of food processing industry (DFPI) to consider the issue of granting fresh import licenses to Indian companies seeking to bring in concentrate of alcoholic beverage to produce whiskey.

The DGFT said that in order to compete with imported bottled liquor as well as the products of multi nationals operating in India, domestic companies will need to have a full portfolio.

The issue of granting industrial licenses is a hotly disputed topic between the central and state governments. Current opinion, among bodies such as the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, at present seems to indicate that the states will be given exclusive rights to issue industrial licences to the liquor industry, with the Centre only formulating guidelines for foreign direct investments.