Indian customs duties on wines and spirits bought from the European Union are likely to drop to 40% from 150%. A recent news report (June 17) in the Indian daily, Business Standard, notes that Indian Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma made this offer to the Trade Commissioner for the European Union, Karel de Gucht, at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development summit in Paris recently, writes Reva K. Singh
This was stated during the latest round of talks between India and the EU over a free trade agreement and is a considerable concession from an earlier Indian offer of a drop in duty to 80%. India also offered to lower the entry price per bottle of wine to $3.7 and whisky to $5.5. The EU is pressing for a further reduction in the duties to 30% and the prices of a bottle of wine and whisky to $3.5.
Whatever there may be in the fine print of the negotiations, the big question is will it actually happen? Which way will the wind blow with elections around the corner? Talks have been going on in a stop and go, stop and go scenario for more than five years.
If the taxes were indeed slashed, it would mean a game-changer and wine consumers in India would have much to rejoice about. Will the local wine industry cry foul or gear up for stiffer competition and produce better wines in a more competitive and growing market?
All we can do is wait and watch.