the reduction of additional customs duty on wine and spirits to the WTO-mandated
levels announced this week, US trade officials are discussing whether to continue
their reference to the WTO for an inquiry against India.
withdrawal was announced after both the EU and the United States filed challenges
at the WTO''s dispute settlement body. (See: US
to move WTO against Indian duties on wine and spirits)
India had managed to stall the EU''s attempt to refer the tariffs issue to the
WTO settlement body (India
stalls EU''s WTO probe attempt on Indian liquor) US trade representative
Susan Schwab said in a statement, "We are studying India''s recent announcement
that it has withdrawn the additional duty on imports of alcoholic beverages."
of this duty would be a positive step in addressing US concerns," Schwab
spokesman Steve Norton said the Bush administration had not yet decided whether
to press ahead with its challenge of Indian duties at the World Trade Organisation''s
dispute settlement body.
India also increased the basic customs duty on wines to 150 per cent, which puts
it on par with spirits and liquor duties as mandated by the WTO.
has one of the world''s biggest spirits markets, valued at $16.2 billion at the
retail level. US officials complain that India''s import tariffs can add up to
550 per cent to the cost of US exports and restrict the growth of US products
in India''s lucrative market.
US beverage industry wants greater access to the growing Asian market, where sales
of US wine and spirit exports in duty-free zones, like airport shops, have grown
rapidly in recent years.
European Union is sceptical of the news, welcoming the "reported removal
of the discriminatory
duties" but also panning the decision to increase the basic customs duty