UK/INDIA: SWA urges action as EU mulls WTO push
The Scotch whisky industry has reiterated its desire for India to cut its tariffs on imported spirits as the EU mulls whether to turn up the heat on the Indian government.
The EU's Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has said the European Commission may decide to press ahead with its threats to take India to a WTO arbitration panel for its refusal to cut duty levels.
Last week, India refused to back down in the row when it unveiled its annual Budget. India has been criticised for its "discriminatory" tariff regime that can see a bottle of Scotch hit with a tax of up to 550%.
Brussels has threatened to push for WTO arbitration if India fails to meet the EU's demands for a fairer tax structure, while the US and Australia have also asked for the WTO to intervene on the issue.
Yesterday (5 March), Fischer Boel said she was "desperately sorry and disappointed" not to see India cut its tax levels. "We are considering a possibility of raising dispute settlement at the WTO," she told reporters after meeting India's Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association told just-drinks today that distillers would "welcome" a referral of India to the WTO. He said: "The time for tariff and tax reform in India is long overdue."
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