DISCUS

VIETNAM'S WTO MEMBERSHIP WILL SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE SPIRITS TARIFFS; Distilled Spirits Council urges Congress to grant PNTR status

November 8, 2006 07:00 PM

WASHINGTON, DC – World Trade Organization (WTO) approval this week of Vietnam’s membership will result in steep reductions in tariffs on imported spirits and significant excise tax reform, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.  The Council today urged Congress to grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status to Vietnam during the lame-duck session that begins next week to ensure that U.S. exports get the benefits of Vietnam’s trade concessions.

“Vietnam’s membership in the WTO has been a top priority for the U.S. distilled spirits industry,” said Deborah Lamb, the Council’s senior vice president for international trade, noting that Vietnam has agreed to take substantive and commercially significant steps to open its market to imported products, including distilled spirits.  “Now the U.S. must act to grant Vietnam PNTR status.  Under WTO rules, the U.S. will not benefit fully from the concessions that Vietnam has made until Congress grants them PNTR status.”

Lamb said that the WTO accession will benefit the distilled spirits industry in several important ways:

• Vietnam will lower its tariffs on imported spirits from 65% to 45%;
• Within three years of accession, Vietnam will reform its discriminatory excise tax regime for spirits, which is currently structured to assess significantly higher taxes on imported spirits than on domestically-produced spirits;
• Import trading rights for distilled spirits will be granted as of January 1, 2007;
• Spirits companies will be able to engage in wholesale and retail businesses three years after Vietnam joins the WTO.

The WTO’s approval completes a decade-long effort that has required Vietnam to make fundamental reforms to the laws and regulations governing its trade and investment relations with the rest of the world. 

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