Irish whiskey industry calls on MEPs to support vote on EU-Vietnam trade agreement

Friday, 7 February 2020

Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey is urging Irish MEPs to support the European Parliament vote on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which would see an elimination of the existing 45 per cent tariff on Irish whiskey.

The representative body for the Irish whiskey industry highlighted their ask of MEPs today (07.02.20) in advance of the plenary vote on the FTA, which is scheduled to take place next Monday (10.02.20) in the European Parliament.

Commenting today, William Lavelle, Head of Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey, said: “In recent months, Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey has been actively briefing and engaging with Irish MEPs on various aspects of the FTA which would greatly support the future growth of Irish whiskey exports to Vietnam. These would include a fullphasing-out of the current excessive tariff of 45 per cent; and legal recognition for the Irish whiskey geographic indication, protecting Irish whiskey from fake competitors.”

While sales of Irish whiskey to Vietnam have historically been low, there has been a near trebling of sales in the past two years, with an estimated 63,000 bottles sold in Vietnam in 2019. The Irish whiskey industry has identified Vietnam, and in particular the city regions of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, as priority future growth regions.

“The last decade had seen a boom in Irish whiskey exports to North America and Europe,” said Mr. Lavelle. “The next decade will see an increasing focus on Asia; and trade agreements such as that on offer with Vietnam will help open up Asia to Irish whiskey.

“We’re calling on Irish MEPs to vote to ratify this trade agreement, which will support export growth. In turn, this will support more jobs in local Irish whiskey distilleries and more custom for Irish barley and grain farmers.

“As a small island that is very much dependent on global trade, Ireland must continue to champion rule-based free trade. We know there is some opposition to the Vietnam FTA on the basis of issues in Vietnam around labour rights and environmental protection. However, we believe this agreement will be an important tool in achieving change on these key issues, while benefitting the Irish, European and Vietnamese economies.

“With so much global uncertainty threatening Ireland’s economy, now is not the time for our politicians to begin voting down trade agreements that offer future growth.”

ENDS

Contact: Emily Brennan / Ciarán Garrett, Alice PR & Events, Tel: 01-5582151 / 086-1658629 / 087-7158912, Email: media@alicepr.com

Notes to Editors:
• Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey was established in 2014 to represent the rapidly expanding Irish whiskey industry. The association provides a forum for all operators, new and old, to come together to share expertise and cooperate in building the Irish whiskey category brand.

The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement:
• The Free Trade Agreement was signed by the EU and Vietnamese government on 30th June 2019 after three years of negotiations.
• Following a positive vote next Monday, the Agreement will come into force one month after Vietnam and the EU have notified each other that legal procedures have been completed.
• Vietnam will liberalise tariffs over a seven-year period, with the current 45 per cent tariff on whiskey to be reduced to zero.
• The population in Vietnam is quickly approaching 100 million. Every year, a million new consumers enter the legal drinking age.