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India "concerned" over EU taking row over wines, spirits to WTO

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Nov 20 (UNI) India today expressed concern at the decision of the Brussels-based European Commission to take the dispute over prevailing high tariffs and taxes on wine and spirits imports to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and countered by demanding opening of the EU market for Indian whisky.

Reacting to reports on the issue, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath told reporters here that "India wants to settle the issue bilaterally but if they (European Commission) have decided to move the WTO then that is their decision." The matter figured prominently during European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson's visit last week in connection with resumption of the Doha Round of talks but without any success.

Earlier, in Brussels the European Commission announced it would be sending a letter to Indian officials, saying it was requesting formal consultations at the WTO.

Terming it as "out-and-out protectionism", the Commission spokesman for trade issues said "that is why we have no alternative but to pursue the matter in this way." India's stand has been that its wines and whisky should be allowed in to the European market which has refused entry on the grounds that the Indian whisky is made of molasses and only malt whisky is for consumption.

Mr Nath said India had taken a position on this issue and argued the case for allowing entry of its whisky.

"After all, all alcohol is ethyl alcohol whether it starts as molasses or malt," he added.

UNI SD SRS HT1955

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