Chinese boost for Scotch whisky industry

generic whisky bottles The Chinese market is currently worth £80m a year

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The Scotch whisky industry is set for a multi-million pound boost after securing greater legal protection for the brand in China.

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable is to sign an agreement with Chinese officials which will recognise the brand as whisky produced in Scotland.

It means Scotch whisky on sale in China can only be sold according to UK rules.

The UK government estimates the deal could increase sales by tens of millions of pounds a year.

Under the agreement, Scotch whisky will be granted geographical indication of origin status, which officials said would give consumers greater certainty that the product bought was genuine.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) first applied to the Chinese government for geographical indication of origin status in 2007.

In 2009, First Minister Alex Salmond led a delegation with the SWA, Scottish Enterprise and the UK Ambassador in Beijing to press the case with Chinese officials. Mr Salmond returned again in July this year to help secure the designation.

'Recognised worldwide'

In a market currently worth £80m a year, the SWA estimates sales in China will grow by 100% in the next four to five years as a result of the geographical indication registration.

Mr Cable said: "Scotch whisky is a brand recognised worldwide so it is important all consumers should have confidence that the product they are buying is genuine.

"This agreement means greater legal protection in China which will only help strengthen export sales of this successful Scottish product."

The registration followed co-operation between UK Trade and Investment, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the SWA and the British Embassy in Beijing.

UK Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said: "If it says Scotch whisky on the bottle, it will be Scotch whisky in the bottle in China's bars, restaurants, hotels and homes."

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