Priority markets for the spirits sector

Top-10 Export Markets 2015


Overall direct export
sells (in €m)

1 USA 3,827 16% 64%
2 Singapore 856 8% 217%
3 China 411 21% 190%
4 Russia 382 -38% 112%
5 Canada 341 17% 79%
6 Taiwan 307 2% 190%
7 United Arab Emirates 286 16% 299%
8 South Africa 268 5% 129%
9 Mexico 261 10% 163%
10 Australia 256 10% 100%



  • Direct exports in 2015: €3.8 billion.  The largest export market for the European spirits sector.
  • Applied import duty: 0
  • Barriers to trade: Regulatory differences, various non-tariff measures.

TTIP would help to reduce costs arising from obstacles and promote overseas protection of EU spirits geographical indications (GIs). We have shared already in 2014 our position paper with the European Commission. 


  • Direct exports in 2015: €341 million.  The 5th largest export market for European spirits sector.
  • Applied import duty: 0-24.56 cents per litre of pure alcohol (for some spirits)
  • Barriers to trade: Canadian Provincial Liquor Boards (independent monopolies, supervised by their provincial governments) control all the import, the sale and the distribution of wine and spirits.  Local producers have increasing opportunities to sell their products through monopolies (private stores, farmers market, direct sales to bars and restaurants...) leading to differences between the treatment of local and imported alcoholic beverages, which infringes both WTO disciplines and bilateral agreements signed by Canada. 

Canada is an important market for EU spirits but remains a challenging environment.  CETA was ratified by the European Parliament on 15 February and pending the 30+ national ratifications, will provisionnaly enter into force in the coming months, stimulating an increase of exports with a net gain in growth and jobs for the European economy.  The agreement will bring better enforcement and dispute settlement, increased transparency, a reduction in unfair practices, and the abolition of all import tariffs.


  • Direct exports in 2015: €411 million
  • Applied import duty: 10%
  • Barriers to trade: Problematic definitions for spirits, regulatory differences, GI protection.

Despite a decrease in exports in previous years, China is once again our 3rd biggest export market. The development of this market continues to offer high opportunities for EU spirits but challenges remain.  Future trends depend on market stability, transparency issues and government intervention.


  • Direct exports in 2015: €200 million.
  • Applied import duty: 20%
  • Barriers to trade: Tariffs, limited intellectual property rights protection, lack of recognition of European GIs, discriminatory taxation and regulatory differences particularly in the case spirits definitions.

Despite a steady decline since 2013, MERCOSUR countries receive significant exports, with Brazil taking the biggest share.  The size of these markets and the growing demand for quality European products require an ambitious trade agreement to solve a range of longstanding market access issues.



  • Direct exports in 2015: €131 million
  • Applied import duty: 150%
  • Barriers to trade: Punitive import tariff, Restrictive practices in the area of taxation, technical regulations, as well as 29 states each with independent regulatory powers on alcoholic beverages.

India remains a complex environment for trade due to significant import tariffs and its composition of 29 states with independent regulatory powers on alcoholic beverages.  Despite a 210% increase in EU spirits exports over the last decade, only 1% of consumption in India is of imported spirits.  An offensive EU trade strategy towards India is essential for further growth and development into this huge untapped market.


  • Direct exports in 2015: €80 million.
  • Applied import duty: 45%
  • Barriers to trade: Volatile tax policy and excise tax charges since 2015.  Vietnam changed the tax base for the calculation of excise duty of certain imported goods resulting in a considerable tax increase on imported spirits.  Along with the previously adopted increase in excise duty rates (for imported spirits from 50% to 55%), this puts at risk the benefits expected from the liberalisation negotiated under the EU-Vietnam FTA.

The EU-Vietnam trade agreement was signed in December 2015 and included elimination of the 45% import tariff after a period of seven years.  Vietnam is a high growth market for European spirits, with a huge increase in exports over the last decade.  Nonetheless, the full potential of the market, fuelled by the country’s sustained economic growth and dynamic demographics, has yet to be unleashed.

Further reading:  Boosting EU trade with South East Asia – New Direction