Additional duty taxes imposed by India on US wine and spirits imports have been ruled illegal by an appeals body at the World Trade Organisation.

The ruling, made this week by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Appellate Body, reverses the body's original decision and echoes last year's ruling on EU wine and spirits exports to India.

Wine and spirits firms see India as a strongly emerging market, but claim additional import taxes of up to 550% more than basic customs duty, have illegally put them at a disadvantage.

US trade representative Susan Schwab said yesterday (30 October): "The Appellate Body reversed a deeply flawed panel report and reaffirmed a fundamental WTO rule that members cannot impose duties on imports that exceed their tariff commitments."

Debbie Lamb, the US Distilled Spirits Council's senior vice president for international issues and trade, praised the US government for "pursuing this case through to the end".

Negotiations with Indian authorities are likely to continue, however.

In September, EU trade officials launched a fresh complaint at the WTO against individual Indian states, which have continued to charge additional duty taxes on imported wine and spirits.

EU exports to India are valued at an annual EUR57m (US$83m) for spirits and EUR11m for wine, according to European trade associations for spirits and wine, the CEPS and CEEV.

US Trade Representative Schwab said: "We continue to have concerns about whether these measures have eliminated India's abusive use of additional tariffs." She said that the US has "noted" the renewed EU action and would continued to monitor the situation.