China to introduce legal protection for whisky

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First Minister Alex Salmond today welcomed the Chinese Government’s commitment to introducing greater legal protection for Scotch Whisky, saying the move would further enhance the reputation of one of Scotland’s leading premium exports.

In a meeting in Beijing today with Shuping Zhi, Deputy Minister for General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), the FM was reassured that the Chinese Government would shortly introduce Geographic Indication (GI) of Origin Status to Scotch.


First Minister Alex Salmond today welcomed the Chinese Government’s commitment to introducing greater legal protection for Scotch Whisky, saying the move would further enhance the reputation of one of Scotland’s leading premium exports.

In a meeting in Beijing today with Shuping Zhi, Deputy Minister for General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), the FM was reassured that the Chinese Government would shortly introduce Geographic Indication (GI) of Origin Status to Scotch.

Such a move will provide additional legal protection against imitations, ensuring all products labelled as Scotch Whisky must come from Scotland.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) applied to the Chinese Government for GI status in 2007 and in April last year the First Minister led a delegation with the SWA, Scottish Enterprise and the UK Ambassador in Beijing to meet China’s Minister of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Mr Wang Yong, to help secure the designation.

The FM is leading a high-level trade delegation to China this week to further strengthen business links and demonstrate Sino-Scottish opportunities in sectors including financial and business services, tourism, life sciences, food and drink, education and culture.

He said: “Mr Zhi has reassured me that this important legal protection for one of Scotland’s premium global exports will be introduced shortly, helping to further increase exports and secure jobs.
“It is a tremendous boost to our whisky industry as producers seek to expand their presence in the hugely important Chinese market, and further recognition of the internationally-renowned quality of Scotch Whisky.

“I am grateful to the Chinese Government for its continued commitment and work to approve the designation, which of course will enable an increasing number of consumers in China to enjoy genuine Scotch Whisky with confidence.”

SWA Chief Executive Gavin Hewitt added:
“The Chinese Government’s commitment to protecting Scotch Whisky and consumers from imitations is welcome.

“We have been grateful for the support of the Scottish and UK governments, as well as the British Embassy in Beijing, for our efforts to secure this additional protection for Scotch Whisky.”

Global exports of Scotch Whisky reached record levels in 2009, rising by 3 per cent in value to £3.13 billion and contributing £99 every second to the UK trade balance, according to SWA figures.

Around 10,000 people are directly employed in the whisky industry, though it supports an estimated 41,000 Scottish jobs, including 7,000 in rural communities.

The SWA has been working with a range of government departments and agencies, including the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, UK Trade & Investment and the UK Ambassador in Beijing for almost three years to secure the ‘geographical indication’ designation.

GI status assures consumers that produce comes from, or has been processed in a particular region renowned for the quality of such produce. Examples include Scotch Whisky, Champagne and Parma ham. Scotch Whisky is already defined in UK law and protected at European Union and World Trade Organisation level as a recognised GI.

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