Unlocking potential in India
17 Nov 2016
On the face of it, India should be a source of enormous success
for Scotch Whisky producers. Indians have a long established
culture of whisky drinking. But as the Prime Minister's plane
touched down on the runway earlier this month in Delhi's thick
yellow smog caused by a combination of cold temperatures, national
Diwali fireworks and local crop burning, I was reminded that
exporting to this beautiful, dynamic country can be equally foggy
for our members.
Let's face it; India is a complicated market to do business in.
The system allows differing rules from national to local
level and across the states. They have inherited a Victorian
tradition of paperwork and process which we might have ourselves to
blame for, but lingers on today. The 150% (not so) basic customs
duty is amongst the highest in the world.
The fact that any Scotch Whisky is sold in India -it is the 10th
largest Scotch market by value but only 1% of India's total spirits
market - is a testament to various factors. These factors include:
the persistence and hard work of our member companies; the friendly
understanding of Indian officials and authorities who appreciate
the importance of facilitating free trade and removing market
access barriers and the enthusiasm of the discerning Indian
consumer who knows that Scotch is the best whisky around.
Additionally, we appreciate the tremendous support from British
government and EU officials who support industry in getting to the
root of any difficulties and working to resolve them.
This was in evidence throughout the Prime Minister's recent trip
- her first as Prime Minister to a non-European country. Mrs May
and all her ministerial colleagues and officials knew about Scotch
and were prepared to make the case to support improvements which
will help all the producers, whether small or large, have fair and
free access to the market. I even heard that reducing the duty was
a call from the majority of local producers who recognised the
significant commercial benefits they would enjoy in relation to the
Scotch Whisky they import. A real win-win for all involved.
While overnight market liberalisation and tariff reductions are
unlikely, I was left with a sense of hope that government support
for Scotch exports is real and that they will work with the SWA to
match our ambitions for growth.
Sarah Dickson, SWA global affairs director