WHISKY industry leaders have played down the chances of any major change to India’s swingeing 150 per cent import tariffs on Scotch and other spirits next year.
David Frost, who is visiting India this week for the third time since becoming chief executive of trade body the Scotch Whisky Association in January, said the country remained “a very important market with immense potential” for the Scotch industry.
But European Union-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations to try to reduce the punitive tariffs on Scotland’s national drink have largely been sidelined in the past year by the general election in that country last May.
Frost said: “India is the biggest spirits market in the world and we have got 1 to 2 per cent of it.
“But it is a difficult business environment. Everyone who does business there knows that.
“That said, we have a new [Indian] government that wants to make life better for business. I believe the FTA negotiations will get going again next year, and tariffs on imports will be a big part of it.
“I think it will move again next year. But getting a result? Probably not. But possibly a sense of direction, yes.”
It comes after Pernod Ricard boss Pierre Pringuet, the newly appointed chairman of the SWA, said he held out no great hopes for an early victory on import tariffs into India for foreign exporters.
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