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US wants India to lower wine tariffs

The US government is behind the World Trade Organisation’s bid to persuade India to lower trade barriers on wine.

The Wine Institute, which represents over 1000 Californian wineries, supports a recent US government request to the WTO to reduce ‘India’s prohibitive duties on US wine and distilled spirits,’ said Joe Rollo, a spokesman for the Wine Institute.

India imposes ‘multiple layers’ of additional duties on imports of wine and distilled spirits, Rollo told decanter.com, ‘on top of its basic custom duties’.

This results in total duties between 150 and 550%, despite its WTO commitment that tariffs not exceed 150%.

‘It would be good news if they reduced their tariffs,’ said Mike McEvoy, sales director at Joseph Phelps Vineyards in Napa.

‘A reduction in the tariffs would really open the potentially explosive opportunity in the world’s largest democracy,’ McEvoy told decanter.com.

India is considered an important emerging market for wine – for both the US and Europe – but high tariffs ‘have suppressed sales there to date,’ according to a press release from the Wine Institute.

The European Union requested WTO action on the same issue last year.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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