WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States applauded the Indian government’s recent announcement to eliminate its additional discriminatory tariffs on imported spirits and wine, which can bring the total tariff burden to as high as 550% on some products.

“The Distilled Spirits Council and its members welcome the Indian government’s decision to abolish the additional duties thereby introducing greater competition in the Indian spirits market,” said Peter H. Cressy, Council President and CEO.  “India’s exorbitant tariffs have made it nearly impossible for U.S. spirits exporters to tap into India’s vast spirits market, which in 2006 was valued at $16.2 billion at the retail level.”  Imported spirits account for less than one percent of the Indian market.

Since 2001, India has applied additional customs duties on imported bottled spirits.  Since 2003 these additional duties ranged from 25% -150%, depending on the per-case price of the imports.  The additional duties and a 4% “extra additional duty” were applied on top of the basic import tariff, yielding effective tariff rates ranging from 225% to 550%.

“Although India’s basic import tariff—150% on bottled imported spirits—will continue to apply, elimination of the additional duties provides U.S. spirits exporters greater access to the Indian market and a wider range of choices for Indian consumers,” Cressy concluded.