Wednesday, 16th February 2011
Scotch sales set to soar as Koreans drop duty
Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson has urged members of the European Parliament to ratify a free-trade agreement between the EU and South Korea which will see import duty on Scotch whisky removed over three years.
Currently, the Koreans impose a 20% tariff on Scotch imports to reduce price competition with a home-grown spirit, soju.
But the new agreement, which it is hoped will be ratified tomorrow [Thursday, February 17th] by the European Parliament at its plenary session in Strasbourg, could see import duties on all EU spirits eliminated over a period of three years.
South Korea has also pledged to respect EU geographical indication of origin rules – meaning companies trying to sell counterfeit ‘Scotch whisky’ can be prosecuted.
South Korea, which has a population of 49 million, is already the Scotch whisky industry's sixth largest export market.
At present, soju has 97% of the market share in spirits in South Korea. But while whisky accounts for less than 1% at present, sales to end-November 2010 were worth £140million – up 43% on the previous year.
Scottish Conservative Euro MP Struan Stevenson said the deal marked the end of eight rounds of negotiations and would open up huge opportunities for the export of Scotch whisky.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, he said:
"Taken together, these two developments represent a massive breakthrough for our whisky industry, giving us the opportunity to promote and protect Scotch whisky in what is already an important export market.
"We have seen from Scotch whisky sales in China that there is a strong demand for premium blends and quality single malts in the Far East.
“As Scotland struggles out of economic recession this is a brilliant bit of news for our most successful and biggest export industry.
“I urge all MEPs to back this historic agreement."