Britain says alcohol trade barriers removed in some export markets

Racegoers choose alcoholic drinks at a bar at the Ascot racecourse at Ascot near London, Britain
Racegoers choose alcoholic drinks at a bar at the Ascot racecourse at Ascot near London, Britain, June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Britain on Thursday said it had negotiated to reduce or remove tariffs on exports of alcohol to several markets around the world, as it eyes a free trade deal with India, one of its biggest whisky markets.

Britain is seeking to negotiate trade deals around the world after it left the European Union, but new trade minister Kemi Badenoch has also indicated that she wants to remove other barriers to trade.

The trade ministry said that 100 million pounds ($112 million) of export markets had been opened up by removing barriers to trade for the alcohol industry, whose exports reached 6.5 billion pounds last year.

Badenoch said the moves, which reduce or scrap tariffs in Argentina, Angola and Morocco and eased customs issues in Tunisia, were "opening access to new markets and new customers.  "

"As we line up deals with huge markets around the globe, including India and CPTPP, I can't wait to celebrate the even greater wins which lie ahead," she said, referring to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership which Britain hopes to join.

One of Britain's most important buyers of whisky is India. The export market for whisky was worth nearly 150 million pounds last year in India, but there is a 150% tariff.

The government has said it aims to do a trade deal with India by Diwali, which starts later this month.

Prime Minister Liz Truss' spokesman said Britain wanted to deepen its trading relationship with India, but would not sacrifice the quality of the deal for speed.

"Securing a deal with India to reduce the 150% tariff on Scotch Whisky is the industry's top international trade priority," said Mark Kent, CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association.

"To deliver for the industry, any agreement must open up the market to more Scotch Whisky producers."

($1 = 0.8895 pounds)

Reporting by Alistair Smout, Editing by Paul Sandle

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