Thursday, June 7, 2012

British PM raises whisky with Philippine president

The Philippine president promised Britain his country was changing its tariff regime on strong drinks, a move which would give Scotch whiskies greater access to the market, London said Wednesday.

In a meeting with President Benigno Aquino, Prime Minister David Cameron "raised the issue of alcohol tariffs, in particular their detrimental effect on Scottish whisky exports", his Downing Street office said in a statement.

"President Aquino said the matter was currently in the lower house and he hoped it would be resolved soon."

European Union countries, seeking access to the Philippines' 98-million strong population and fast-growing economy, have long complained of its high tariffs on imported distilled spirits compared with locally made drinks.

London-listed Diageo, the world-biggest alcoholic drinks producer, on Wednesday launched plans to invest £1.0 billion ($1.5 billion, 1.2 billion euros) in Scotch whisky production in a move that will create hundreds of jobs.

Cameron also made the case for British firms seeking Philippine aerospace and infrastructure deals, Downing Street added, as Philippine airline Cebu Pacific said it had signed a $280 million engine service deal with British aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce.

He told Aquino that "the Philippines could look to the UK as their strongest partner in Europe given their shared outlook on trade and investment".

The pair discussed Myanmar, whose opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to visit Britain this month amid signs of democratic reform in the formerly military-ruled state