Pernod Ricard is lobbying for lower tax rates through a free trade deal in the works between the UK and India. The alcohol giant aims to use the free trade deal to benefit their whisky sales in India.
Jean-Etienne Gourgues, the chief executive of Chivas Brothers (owned by Pernod Ricard), said that “global supply chain difficulties” are making it harder for their products to be sold in “key markets”. He “hopes” that a free trade agreement between the UK and India could take care of these “difficulties” so that Chivas Brothers can push their products even more aggressively on the Indian people.
Currently, India has high import tariffs for Scotch whisky. This protects Indian society from being saturated with imported whisky products and further accelerating alcohol harm in Indian communities.
Pernod Ricard reported massive profits in the latter half of 2021. They recorded €1.998 billion (US$2.28 billion) in profits, a 22% increase. The liquor giant increased their sales in Asia and the rest of the world by 16%. The company plans to pump in even more dollars into marketing to accelerate their alcohol marketing to drive in their aggressive pursuit of driving up alcohol consumption globally.
Pernod Ricard fuels alcohol harms
The profits of Pernod Ricard and other Big Alcohol companies come at a cost to society. For example in India the products and practices of the alcohol industry are responsible for substantial death and disease rates:
- In 2017, alcohol products were responsible for more than 580,000 deaths in India, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study.
- According to OECD figures, alcohol use has risen with more than 72.5% over a period of 20 years.
- According to a report by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) of India, every third alcohol user in India needs help for alcohol use problems and only about 1 in 38 people with alcohol dependence, report getting any treatment or help.
- A modelling study in 2019 found that India loses 1.45% of its GDP due to alcohol. This is more than the country’s entire health spending which is 1.28% of its GDP.
- In numbers, between 2011–2050 India stands to lose US$2.2 trillion – accounting for tax revenues – because of harm due to alcohol.
India does not have a comprehensive national alcohol policy. Most of India’s alcohol policies are regulated at the subnational level. This has led to various different alcohol laws across states.
Big Alcohol is known to exploit the loopholes in India’s alcohol policies.
- Recently, three major alcohol multinationals were exposed for price cartellization.
- The companies were Carlsberg, AB InBev acquired SABMiller, and Heineken-controlled United Breweries (UB).
- Before that Carlesberg was exposed for bribery and child labour in India.
- In the state of Assam alcohol was used to bribe voters during elections.
- During COVID-19, Big Alcohol has been pushing state governments to allow home delivery of alcohol products. This led some states to trial various online sales methods, including a token system.
Now, Pernod Ricard is trying to influence a free trade deal between the UK and India to reduce import tariffs on their products so that the company can flood India with their alcohol brands and push for higher consumption at the cost of Indian lives.
The liquor giant is looking for similar deals to reduce import taxes in other countries in the global south such as Nigeria and Brazil. What these countries have in common is a growing middle-class and young populations with more disposable income. In other words, the perfect target for driving up alcohol consumption and recruiting lifelong customers to replace the decreasing alcohol use trends in western countries.