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UK gains trade deals to boost alcohol exports

The UK government has removed trade barriers in four markets worth more than £100 million (US$113m) to alcohol producers, including Argentina and Morocco.

Argentina has slashed whisky tariffs from 35% to 20% for UK distillers

The government said it had resolved trade barriers in Argentina, Angola, Morocco and Tunisia. The move will help increase alcohol exports, which hit £6.5 billion (US$7.3bn) last year, the government’s Department for International Trade noted.

Argentina has cut whisky tariffs from 35% to 20%, while Morocco has removed 49% tariffs that were ‘mistakenly’ enacted on a range of UK spirits.

Furthermore, planned taxes on alcohol imports in Angola were axed, and alcoholic products stuck at Tunisian customs were released, allowing UK firms to benefit from lower tariffs under the UK-Tunisia agreement, the government said.

“Every week we remove a trade barrier somewhere around the world,” said UK trade secretary Kemi Badenoch. “From whisky in Argentina to gin in Angola, we’re slashing red tape and opening access to new markets and new customers.”

In June, the government said it was aiming to unlock export opportunities worth more than £20bn (US$22.6bn) by targeting 100 trade barriers around the world.

The government previously secured the removal of tariffs on all UK exports to Australia and New Zealand, making it cheaper to sell gin and Scotch whisky in the two markets.

UK-India discussions

The UK is currently in negotiations to secure a free trade agreement (FTA) with India, which has a 150% import tax on Scotch whisky. The UK exported £146m (US$165m) worth of whisky to India last year, according to the government.

The move could boost the sector’s exports to the country by £1bn (US$1.2bn) over five years, trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said.

Increased access to India could be ‘hugely significant’ for UK businesses, the government noted, with the country forecast to become the world’s third-largest economy.

Mark Kent, CEO of SWA, said a deal with India to remove the import tax was the “industry’s top international trade priority”.

“We want to see a deal agreed, but not any deal,” said Kent. “To deliver for the industry, any agreement must open up the market to more Scotch whisky producers, which will in turn generate hundreds of new jobs across the UK, hundreds of millions of pounds of additional exports, and boost investment and revenue in India.

“The ongoing negotiations are a once-in-a-generation chance to give more Scottish distillers the opportunity to do business in India. That is the scale of the prize on offer.”

Ewan Andrew, president of global supply chain and procurement at the world’s biggest Scotch whisky distiller, Diageo, said a deal between the UK and India would be a “transformational opportunity” for Scotch.

The UK government is also in talks to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which will allow distillers to benefit from lower tariffs for exports. The bloc includes countries such as Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico and Singapore.

Anishka Jelicich, UK director of public affairs for Pernod Ricard, owner of Chivas Scotch whisky, added: “UK spirits are winning markets and securing jobs thanks to the UK’s global trade policy. We strongly support the free trade agreements now under negotiation with India and CPTPP.”

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