Fairer market access for Scotch Whisky in India will be high on the agenda when Trade Minister Mike O'Brien MP, accompanied by UK business representatives, visits New Delhi this week. 

Accompanying Mr O'Brien to India, Tim Jackson, Director of International Affairs at The Scotch Whisky Association, will be highlighting to Indian government officials industry concerns about the Federal duty burden of between 246%-592% levied on Scotch, as well as the differing fiscal treatment of imported and locally produced spirits.  

Speaking before his departure to India, Tim Jackson said: "The Scotch whisky industry is not seeking any favours, just fair market access.  We recognise the Indian government has taken steps in the right direction by reducing the Federal duty burden in the last two Budgets. However, the overall duties levied on Scotch Whisky are excessive by international standards, and more favourable tax arrangements apply to local than imported spirits.

"We will be taking the opportunity of Mr O'Brien's visit to urge India to continue this process by reducing the duty on Scotch Whisky to a more pragmatic level, as well as addressing its unfavourable fiscal treatment between imported and domestic spirits, in the 2004 Budget.  This would discourage illicit trade in the market to the benefit of the consumer and the Indian government, whilst allowing international spirit drinks fairer access to an important 70-80 million case spirits market."