UK: Scotch readies for EU enlargement

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The Scotch Whisky Association has welcomed the "new marketing opportunities" that will open up for the industry with the lifting of import tariffs on Scotch Whisky by eight Eastern European countries tomorrow. 

From 1 July, there will be tariff free access to eight of the ten countries preparing to join the EU on 1 May 2004.  Under EU rules neither tariffs nor quotas can apply to goods being shipped within the Single Market.

Tim Jackson, director of international affairs at The Scotch Whisky Association, said:   "The elimination of tariffs on Scotch Whisky has been the industry's top priority throughout the enlargement negotiations, with early tariff removal a crucial step in the preparation for EU membership. 

"With the removal of tariffs ranging from 5% in the Czech Republic to 40.8% in Hungary, we can today see our efforts beginning to pay dividends. Tariff elimination, alongside the adoption of EU rules ending discriminatory taxation and protecting the definition of whisky, will significantly improve market access for Scotch Whisky in Central and Eastern Europe.

"Earlier enlargements of the EU demonstrate the opportunities. Five years after Spain's 1986 accession, Scotch Whisky exports had almost trebled to £157m, and in 2002 had grown to £256m, one of the industry's largest export markets.  With the Single Market increasing by some 75m consumers in May next year, this enlargement also offers real opportunities for the industry.

"Our focus must now be to ensure that the two accession countries, Poland and Cyprus, still applying spirits tariffs (as well as a quota in Poland), remove these burdens before joining the EU."

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