Britain’s Scotch whiskey industry was set to be one of the biggest winners from the long-awaited Indo-British Free Trade Agreement, which will no longer meet the long-awaited Diwali deadline.
It was former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who set the Diwali deadline for the trade deal with India. However, Britain’s new trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, recently said her country is no longer meeting that deadline. She added that it made sense to focus on the deal itself rather than the date.
While the date may not matter for the new administration in the UK, it certainly does for the whiskey industry as they will miss another Diwali holiday here in India – the biggest whiskey market in the world .
Alcohol consumption during Diwali is very high in India and capturing this season would have made huge business sense for the Scotch whiskey industry which accounts for 2% of the total Indian whiskey market (production of 2.4 billion bottles per year ).
Indian whiskey production is more than two and a half times the total volume of total Scotch whiskey production. In 2021, India was the 8th largest export market for Scotch whiskey by value, worth £146m (£102m in 2020), and the second largest by volume, with the equivalent of 136 million bottles exported (95 million bottles in 2020).
For the UK, the deal would have guaranteed jobs and increased the industry’s contribution to the economy from over £300m to almost £6bn. Unfreezing tariffs in India could potentially increase Indian government revenue, both at the Center and in the states, by £3.4 billion a year.
Scotch Whiskey Association CEO Mark Kent called the ongoing negotiations a once-in-a-generation chance to give more Scottish distillers the chance to do business in India. He said, however, that the industry wanted a deal, but not just any deal.
“We want to see a deal done, but not just any deal. To serve the industry, any deal must open up the market to more Scotch Whiskey producers, which in turn will generate hundreds of new jobs across the UK, hundreds of millions of pounds of additional exports and boost investment and income in India,” he said.
Kent also said securing a deal with India to cut 150% tariffs on Scotch whiskey was the industry’s top international trade priority.
Industry insiders in other sectors also want to tread carefully, especially after reports of negotiations standing in the way of comments by UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman about Indians overstaying their term of office. Visa.
The External Affairs Office confirmed the deal was being worked on, as did the UK Trade Secretary.
Organizations that have been working tirelessly for a long time since the deal was announced in January 2022 now want to err on the side of caution.
In Brexit Britain, with the economy in a downward spiral and government in constant turmoil, the Indo-British trade deal would be a crown jewel.
Also Read: How Suella Braverman Brought the India-UK Free Trade Agreement to the Verge of Collapse
Also Read: No Longer Working Until Diwali Deadline for India Trade Pact, Says UK Trade Secretary
Also read: UK needs FTA much more and India should play like a winner, says Lord Meghnad Desai