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The new chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association has said he hopes more progress on cutting India's duty on international wines and spirits can be made after upcoming elections in the country. 

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David Frost, who took over as head of the trade body last month, called the 150% tariff “the one big game-changer” for the whisky industry. He also said a “decent amount” of progress had already been made prior to his arrival at the SWA.

“We hope that this progress can be pushed up. The opportunity is massive,” Frost said yesterday (20 February).

India is due to hold a general election in the coming months, and Frost said little advancement is likely until it is over.

“Not much seems to be happening at the moment,” he said. “Maybe after the election things can move forward.”

India and the European Union have been locked in discussions over a free trade agreement for about five years, with the SWA pushing for lower tariffs for its members as part of any deal.

Frost, who was speaking to journalists in central London last night, also denied that a new Scotch verification scheme placed a disproportionately higher financial burden on smaller distillers. 

“We think the industry is successful enough to do it,” he said.

The UK-Government-backed Spirit Drinks Verification Scheme came into effect last month and aims to ensure that every aspect of the supply chain for Scotch complies with the rules on Scotch production. The annual cost of the scheme will be around GBP350,000 (US$576,000), with the industry footing the bill.


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