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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 01:19 GMT
Boom in whisky exports to China
Whisky being poured
Popularity of whisky among Chinese drinkers continues to grow
Scotland's whisky exports to China have increased by 84% in one year, according to official figures.

The Scotch Whisky Association's report showed that in 2005, exports were valued at 46m - the equivalent of 20 million bottles being shipped there.

The figures were released to coincide with a visit by First Minister Jack McConnell to Beijing.

Mr McConnell said he wanted to see Scotland's share of emerging markets, like China, continue to grow.

At an event hosted by the Scotch Whisky Association, he told Chinese media and business leaders that China offered huge potential for Scots firms with world-class products.

Product ambassador

Mr McConnell said that was why the Scottish Executive had expanded its global business support agency, Scottish Development International, in China, following his visit there in 2004.

"Already we have helped 87 Scottish firms working in China, a 74% increase on last year," he said.

SWA chief executive Gavin Hewitt added: "Scotch whisky is an ambassador for our country in new emerging markets such as China, where we continue to see an exciting growth in exports."

The SWA's full global export figures are due out later this week.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives raised concerns that the Chancellor could be planning to increase the duty on spirits in the Budget announcement on Wednesday.

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