- EU spirits exports to China worth €338m in 2014
- Issues of concern: counterfeiting (and issues linked with GI, indication of origin, vague definition of product categories, refilling of genuine bottles with fake spirits, etc.); draft legislation on quality standard for spirits including health warning label and a very low methanol limit that would stop some EU products.
China is among the top five export markets for European spirits. The overall value of exports to China is actually substantially higher, since many consignments reach the country via Hong Kong or Singapore and are not included in the official bilateral trade statistics. As Chinese exports of spirits to the EU are negligible, this is one of the few sectors where the EU enjoys a very significant trade surplus with China.
Since China's accession to the WTO in 2001, tariff barriers have nearly disappeared, although an ad valorem customs duty of 10 % remains.
However, a number of non-tariff issues remain, or have been proposed by Chinese authorities recently:
- Counterfeiting of European spirit drinks is on the rise in China. According to industry estimates, the 'market share' of counterfeit European products amounts to around 25% of all imported spirits sold.
- The 'voluntary' Chinese standard defining alcoholic beverages and certain spirit drinks is currently under revision. This new standard needs to be as strict as possible, in order to avoid a loosening of the definitions for European spirits.