South Korea lifts whisky ban

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SOUTH Korea has announced it is lifting import barriers against Scotch whisky. South Korea’s 20 per cent spirits import duty is being phased out and deliberately complex requirements for labelling are to go. Just as important, the South Koreans also agreed to protect Scotch whisky against imitators.

During 2010 Scotch whisky was the UK’s biggest export to South Korea. Top selling brands are Windsor, Imperial Classic and Scotch Blue. Macallan and Glenfiddich are the most popular single malts.

The Scotch Whisky Association said the agreement with Seoul was “the most ambitious trade deal negotiated by the EU and the first with an Asian country”.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht welcomed the potential for the Scotch whisky industry, saying an impact assessment points to a doubling of exports.

“This will make the product 20 per cent less expensive, and it will make it much more competitive with the local brands, which represent the larger part of the market,” he revealed.

Scotch whisky exports reached a record in 2010, totalling £3.45bn – 10 per cent up on the previous year. America remains the biggest market for Scotch, with sales increasing by 19 per cent to £499m.

Sales in Europe remained flat with a steep decline in Greece and Spain. In Greece duty on Scotch whisky increased three times last year as part of its government’s austerity programme.