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Delhi block to WTO probe

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 11.04.07

Geneva, April 10 (AP): India today blocked a World Trade Organisation investigation of its import duties on European wine and spirits, temporarily delaying a dispute that could soon involve the US.

An investigative panel will almost certainly be established to examine Delhi’s compliance with international trade rules at a meeting of the WTO’s dispute settlement body later this month, officials said.

India has introduced several measures “in the form of duties, which have continued to restrict the access of EU wines and spirits to the Indian market,” Raimund Raith, trade negotiator for the European Union, told the WTO’s dispute settlement body.

The duties, according to the EU, increase the price of French wine and Scotch whisky five-fold, violating international trade rules.

India, which had previously indicated it would consider cutting the duties to avoid deepening the dispute, said it was “extremely disappointed” with the decision, which it labelled “premature”. Under WTO rules, a second request for a formal investigation is automatically approved.

The US, which has also filed a complaint with the WTO about India’s treatment of American wine and spirits, said it shared the EU’s concerns.

“The additional and extra additional duties India imposes on imported wine and distilled spirits appear to be inconsistent with India’s WTO obligations,” the US told the 150-member WTO.