The United States would ask the World Trade Organisation
to investigate whether India''s import duties on US products
such as Napa Valley wine and Jack Daniel''s whiskey violate
global trade rules, US trade negotiator Susan Schwab
statement comes a month after the WTO established a
panel to examine a European complaint against wine and
liquor restrictions in a number of Indian states.
layers of customs duties India applies to US products,
in particular to wine and distilled spirits, are not
in line with its WTO commitments," Schwab said
in a statement. "We must ensure a level playing
field for US products around the world," she added.
imposes a basic import duty of 100 per cent on wine
and a 150 per cent tariff on spirits both within
WTO limits. However, various surcharges take the tariffs
to levels as high as 550 per cent, depending on the
Nadu has a total ban on foreign alcohol and allows shops
to sell only Indian-made spirits and wines.
contrast, China imposes only a 10 per cent charge on
foreign liquor while the US, the EU and Japan apply
no tariffs on nearly all imported spirits.
are disappointed that WTO consultations failed to resolve
our concern with the duties and that we must resort
to a WTO panel," Schwab said.
US statement said additional duties are also applied
on other American exports such as dairy products. The
fees sometimes exceed maximum levels permitted by the
Geneva-based trade organisation, it said.
it may take months, and sometimes years, to arrive at
a decision, a case can result in authorisation of punitive
is one of the largest markets for alcohol in the world
and has huge potential for growth.
US said American wine sales in India through special
duty-free rules, such as airports and luxury hotels,
grew 200 per cent between 2000 and 2005 against an overall
growth of 350 per cent
the 27-nation EU, in its complaint, said its alcohol
exports to India accounted for only a small percentage
of total world sales. India bought euro23.3 million
($31.3 million) worth of European spirits in 2004 -
from Scottish whisky to Finnish vodka - and euro4 million
($5.4 million) worth of wine. That compares with global
European spirits exports amounting to euro5 billion
($6.7 billion) and wine exports of euro4.5 billion ($6.1
billion) each year.