Trade body SpiritsEurope is calling on the European Union to finalise global free trade agreements and support the spirits sector as it aims to “significantly” boost exports over the next five years.

In a new report - entitled 'Spirits: a European Power House for Trade' – the group highlights that, in the last ten years, European spirits exports have doubled to EUR10bn (US$13.6bn). “Local spirits are flying the European flag abroad, but we can achieve so much more,” said Paul Skehan, SpiritsEurope's director general. 

But, he added: “The elimination of high import tariffs and other barriers such as discriminatory tax policy, insufficient intellectual property protection or complex custom procedures need to be addressed by the EU through the conclusion of ambitious free trade agreements (FTAs) with our main trading partners,  a reinforced market access strategy, and credible enforcement mechanisms.”

The group flagged that in India, the world's largest whisk(e)y market, less than 1% of all spirits consumption is imports. “The abolition of the 150% import tariff would allow a boom in European spirits exports within a few years of liberalisation,” Spirits Europe said. 

The report says trade deals need to be concluded in India, Vietnam and Thailand as the countries have "significant commercial potential" for the European spirits sector. It also says talks should be re-launched with Mercosur, an allegiance of South American countries, to promote free trade. 

Earlier this year, Scotch Whisky Association chief David Frost said he hoped to make progress on abolishing India's 150% import tariff on spirits

Expert analysis

The Future of the Spirits Market in India to 2018

The Future of the Spirits Market in India to 2018

Summary • This report provides authoritative and granular detail of the Spirits market in India; and in doing so fills the gaps in marketers’ understanding of market trends and the components of more