HC Deb 24 February 1998 vol 307 c155W
Mrs. Ewing

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations she has made to the Government of Taiwan concerning(a) their current tax treatment of Scotch whisky and (b) their regulations on the definition and labelling of whisky. [27901]

Mrs. Roche

[holding answer 9 February 1998]: This Government are pressing Taiwan strongly for the early elimination of the current tax discrimination on Scotch whisky and introduction of satisfactory legislation on the definition and labelling. We are fully conscious of the adverse effect which the discriminatory tax treatment and the absence of legal definitions is having on the Scotch whisky industry and on the UK's export earnings. During his visit to Taipei last year, British Overseas Trade Chairman Sir Martin Laing raised this with both the Taiwanese President and the Vice Minister for Finance. My hon. Friend the Minister for Education and Industry, Scottish Office also raised it during his visit in October. In November 1997 the head of the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei wrote, with DTI support, a joint letter with his French counterpart urging Taiwan to take immediate action to equalise taxes on all spirits. Following a disappointing response, UK officials in London and Taipei have emphasised to the Taiwanese our concern about the slow progress on these issues. My hon. Friend the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs and DTI officials will reinforce our expectation of early progress at the UK/Taiwan trade policy consultations in London on 26–27 February. DTI officials have also written to the European Commission, ahead of the next EU-Taiwan market access negotiations over Taiwan's accession to the World Trade Organisation in Taipei on 23–26 February, to ensure that in its negotiations the Commission continues to reflect the UK's and other Member States' concerns on these issues.

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