UK's wine and spirit trade body signs deal with China's Moutai group

Updated 2018-04-26 15:09:01

Manufacturer keen to expand outside China

The United Kingdom's Wine and Spirit Trade Association, known as the WSTA, has signed an agreement with China's baijiu maker Kweichow Moutai Company with the aim of building a "strategic" cooperative partnership between Britain and China.

The deal, signed on Tuesday, will allow the WSTA and Moutai to identify opportunities to promote a "regular and open dialogue on matters of mutual interest".

Moutai, a popular brand of baijiu, contains 53 percent alcohol by volume and is distilled from locally grown high-quality sorghum in Guizhou province. It is often served at special occasions in China, from Chinese New Year dinners and wedding receptions to business banquets. It is also considered a luxury item and a popular gift.

Due to current land controls, the Chinese company is unable to produce more than 60,000 metric tons of its baijiu in the province per year. As a result, Moutai is looking to find opportunities to expand its operations outside China.

Moutai industry executives accompanied Shen Yiqin, the governor of Guizhou province, on a two-day visit to the UK to promote business links between the province and Britain.

The agreement was signed by WSTA Chief Executive Miles Beale and Yuan Renguo, chairman of the Kweichow Moutai Group.

The WSTA said the prospect of Brexit means it wants to build ties with other countries outside the European Union.

"Strengthening ties with countries outside the EU is a key priority for WSTA," said Beale. "By working closely with the wine and spirit industry colleagues across the globe, together we can better advise politicians on the benefits of free trade deals and how to avoid unnecessary barriers for the free flow of trade."

Yuan said good relations between the two countries were being reflected in increased sales. "Over the last few years China-UK friendship has continued to warm with the efforts of the leaders of both countries," he said. "This has had a direct impact on increasing our trade relations: sales of British products, such as Scottish whisky, continue to grow in China; Moutai and other Chinese liquor brands continue to increase sales in the UK."

Yuan noted that in 2017, Moutai Group exported 17.5 tons of Moutai liquor to the UK, generating nearly 2.5 million pounds (.4 million) in revenue. "The UK is now one of Moutai's fastest growing international markets", he added.

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