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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 22:29 GMT
Cheers for tarriff move
Eight countries will lift their tarriffs early
The Scottish whisky industry is celebrating the lifting of tarriffs by countries preparing for EU membership.

The eight countries, mostly from the former Soviet bloc, are among 10 which will join the European Union in May of next year.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia will lift their tariffs early.

The tariffs range from 5% in the Czech Republic to almost 41% in Hungary.

Tim Jackson, SWA director of international affairs, said elimination of the tariffs had been the industry's "top priority" during enlargement negotiations.

"Real opportunities'|

He said: "Tariff elimination, alongside the adoption of EU rules ending discriminatory taxation and protecting the definition of whisky will significantly improve market access for Scotch whisky in central and eastern Europe."

"With the single market increasing by some 75 million consumers in May next year, this enlargement also offers real opportunities for the industry."

The SWA has pointed to the benefits of tarriffs being lifted elsewhere.

Five years after Spain joined the EU in 1986, whisky exports to that country nearly trebled to 157m.

Last year it was one of the industry's biggest export markets, with sales of 256m.

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