Scotch Whisky Association seeks breakthrough in India

Scotch Whisky Association seeks breakthrough in India

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has embarked on a lobbying mission to India as the prospect of a reduction in key import tariff barriers draws nearer.

SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt has flown to India alongside several of the trade body's directors, in order to up the pressure for a reduction in import duty on Scotch. The group said that there is currently a 150% tariff on imported spirits in India, which means that a GBP10 bottle of Scotch costs GBP25 even before it reaches distribution channels.

Negotiations on a free trade agreement between the European Union and India are set to complete in the first quarter of 2012. If agreement can be reached, this could include import tariff reductions on a range of EU goods, including Scotch.

Indian consumers' general taste for whisk(e)y means that the country has emerged an important growth market for Scotch. However, distillers say that this growth has been held back by tariffs at both the national and state level.

“There is significant demand for Scotch Whisky, particularly from the aspirational middle class, but there are major barriers to trade to overcome," Hewitt said today (15 November). "The key issue is the 150% tariff." 

Around 140m cases of whisky are sold in India each year, but only around 1.5m of these are Scotch whisky.