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Scotch whisky industry receives Korean trade boost

Published:  01 July, 2011

The Scotch whisky industry is to receive one of its biggest trade boosts as the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union and South Korea comes into force today.

The agreement which is being heralded as a "major milestone", is a first for the SWA with an Asian country.

Benefits include the phasing out of the 20% spirits import duty and legal protection for the Scotch whisky name.

Korea is currently the sixth-largest export market by value and ninth by volume for Scotch whisky worldwide, with direct shipments from the UK alone totalling £153 million last year.

Martin Bell, Scotch Whisky Association, deputy director - Asia Pacific and WTO, says: "This deal will generate significant benefits for the UK and EU economies.

"Despite Korea already being a key market for Scotch, its performance over the years has been impeded by the high tariff and other trade barriers in a market where the domestic spirit, soju, has a 97% market share.

"The FTA gives distillers a significant boost as they seek to market their products to Korean consumers, who already have a taste for Scotch whisky, notably premium blends."

While the agreement with South Korea is confirmation of progress being made on the international trade agenda, the SWA said there is still a lot of work to be done to break down barriers in other emerging markets, notably India.