WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 16, 2001 – A new round of worldwide trade talks will lead to reduced tariffs and more open markets for distilled spirits products said Debbie Lamb, Senior Vice President for International Issues and Trade. The agreement to launch a new round of trade negotiations was reached Nov. 14 at the Doha Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Qatar. “A new WTO round has been a high priority for the distilled spirits industry,” said Lamb, the former Chief Democratic Trade Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. “Although we have had success in past rounds of trade negotiations in reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers, significant trade restrictions remain, particularly in important emerging markets.” Under the agreement made in Doha, negotiations to provide greater protection for Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey as distinctive products of the United States will wrap up in 2003. Currently, the WTO provides for the protection of geographical indications for distinctive spirits such as Scotch whisky, tequila, Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey. “A new round of negotiations will give us a chance to level the playing field in these important markets,” Lamb noted. Lamb cited India as an example of an emerging market with an exorbitantly high tariff. India, the world’s second largest spirits market, imposes tariffs on imported spirits ranging from 464 percent to 706 percent. Lamb noted that a number of Central and East European countries that are seeking to join the European Union have granted tariff preferences to EU-sourced spirits, putting U.S. distilled spirits at a competitive disadvantage. “The decision to launch a new round is a great step forward for the WTO, particularly after the setback in Seattle,” said Lamb. “We commend Ambassador Zoellick and his team and we look forward to participating fully in the next round of negotiations.”