UK-India FTA: Indian alcohol beverage producers urge Centre for level playing field

New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) The Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) has urged the Centre for level playing field with British players under the proposed India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The CIABC has written to the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry requesting it for a staggered reduction in effective Customs duty on spirits and wines under the proposed FTA.

The current Customs duty on white and brown spirits and wines is 150 per cent, it said.

The confederation wants that if needed, duties should be brought down gradually in a staggered manner so that Indian manufacturers’ interests are safeguarded.

Gradual reduction in duties will provide a “level playing field” to the Indian alcoholic beverage producers, the confederation said in the letter to the Centre, which was reviewed by IANS.

“(We urge the government to ensure) The Indian alcoholic beverage industry is permitted a truly level playing field by way of an effective customs duty that is reflective of the higher cost of production driven by the regulatory restrictions and capital cost in India,” the letter read.

Besides, it requested the Centre to bring in measures which would prevent dumping or predatory price exports to India. Also, the beverage producers must be given equal opportunities for exports from India — particularly to the UK.

Further, it suggested the Centre should allow selling Indian whiskies in the UK as ‘Indian Whisky’, irrespective of whether they were made from malt, grain spirits or molasses-based spirits. Same must be the case for all other alcohol categories.

“We reiterate that the domestic alcoholic beverages industry only seeks just and fair level playing field for Indian producers and helps them achieve global scale and success. Today India produces internationally acclaimed single malt whisky brands such as Paul John, Amrut, Rampur, Solan Gold, gins such as Jaisalmer, and wines like Sula which are being exported across the globe,” it said.

“These products confidently and proudly showcase their Indian heritage to the world. Back home, the alcoholic beverages industry contributes Rs 2.5 lakh crore annually in taxes to the states, employs 20 lakh people and supports 50 lakh farmers,” it added.

It is vital for the greater interests of the domestic industry and will thereby create opportunities for Indian products to mark their presence globally, the confederation said.



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