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INDIA: EU, India start WTO duty negotiations

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European Union officials are in New Delhi today (20 December) in an attempt to broker a deal with the Indian government over the country's tariff regime.

The EU delegation is in the Indian capital for two-day talks in a bid to get the country's government to bring its duty on beverage alcohol imports in line with its World Trade Organisation commitments.

The EU believes India's tariffs unfairly penalise imports at the expense of domestically-produced wine and spirits and wants the tax on beverage alcohol imports reduced.

The Scotch whisky industry, for example, has been a fierce critic of India's duty system, where a tax of up to 550% can be levied on a bottle of Scotch.

The negotiations between the EU and India are the first stage of a disputes proceeding at the WTO. If talks with India fail to meet the EU's demands, then Brussels could push for WTO arbitration.

"These WTO consultations offer India the opportunity to agree reform of its discriminatory fiscal system for Scotch Whisky, without the need for a dispute settlement panel being set up in Geneva," a spokesman for the UK-based Scotch Whisky Association told just-drinks today. "It is time for India to allow fair market access in line with WTO rules."

According to reports in India, the US and Australia have also given the EU their support in its quest to bring down India's import tariffs. The two countries have asked the WTO to join the negotiations on the issue.


Sectors: Spirits

Companies: Scotch Whisky Association

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