Scotch Whisky Association CEO Gavin Hewitt will this week hold fresh talks with Chinese officials on securing better protection for authentic Scotch in China.

Hewitt will be one of 11 food and drink executives accompanying European agriculture commisssioner Mariann Fischer Boel on a five-day tour of China, starting today (18 May) and organised to promote EU produce.

China is viewed as one of the most promising future export markets for Scotch, and the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has applied for Geographical Indication of Origin status in the country to protect authentic Scotch against fraudulent copycats.

An SWA spokesperson said: "The commissioner's visit is an ideal opportunity to continue our discussions with the Chinese authorities as to how best to protect Scotch Whisky from unfair competition in the market."

Scotch exports to China rose by 5% in value to GBP44m in 2008, according to figures released by the SWA earlier this month. Total Scotch exports in 2008 rose by 8% to a record GBP3bn.

The SWA believes the real value of Scotch whisky sales in China is higher than its official figure, with a growing number of cases exported to Singapore before being sent on to the country.

Official exports to China fell by 28% to GBP42m in 2007.

Last month, Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, said following his own visit to China that Scotch was close to securing protected name status in the country.