WASHINGTON, DC — The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States today commended the Indian government for its Feb. 28th announcement that it will reduce its exorbitant tariffs on imported distilled spirits. The Council called the action “a modest step in the right direction.” The Indian action, included as part of its budget for fiscal year 2002-2003, will reduce the effective tariff rates on imported distilled spirits, including U.S. Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey, from 464% – 706% to 340 – 413%. India has now conceded that its base tariff violated its WTO commitments, and will reduce it from 210% to 182%. It will also reduce the additional customs duties ranging from 75% – 150% that were imposed in April 2001 to 50% – 75%. “While this is definitely an improvement over the currently effective tariffs that we faced before this latest Indian government action, it will not do much to pry open the vast Indian spirits market,” said Debbie Lamb, Distilled Spirits Council Senior Vice President of International Issues & Trade. “Effective tariff rates on imported spirits are still astronomical, which will continue to price imported products out of the market. These additional customs duties must be eliminated entirely.” The U.S., European Union, and Canadian governments called on the Government of India to bring its base tariff in line with its WTO commitments and to eliminate the discriminatory additional customs duties, which are clear violations of WTO rules. The governments’ strong messages to India reinforced the efforts of DISCUS and other spirits associations to address these discriminatory additional tariffs, which became effective in April 2001. “These modest improvements would not have been possible without the sustained efforts of the U.S. government,” said Lamb. “DISCUS and its member companies are extremely grateful for the government’s support and look forward to continuing our discussions on appropriate next steps.”