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Scotch whisky wins legal recognition in 17 African nations

Published:  16 September, 2015

Scotch whisky producers are celebrating after the drink was given geographical indication protection by 17 African countries.

The agreement will help to protect producers against fake products in the countries signing up, limiting the description Scotch whisky to those distilled in Scotland in accordance with UK law.

The deal applies to the member countries of the Organisation Africaine de la Propriete Intellectuelle (OAPI): Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Republic of Congo, Senegal and Togo.

They cover a fifth of the continent by area and have a combined population of 150 million.

The Scotch Whisky Association believes that Scotch is the first spirit drink to be protected as a GI in OAPI countries.

Andrew Swift, legal counsel for the SWA, said: "This is a significant step forward in the protection of Scotch whisky. OAPI covers a vast area with a growing population.

"Demand for Scotch from countries in OAPI is growing. Between 2005 and 2014, Scotch exports to all OAPI countries increased by 275% to £13.6 million from just under £5 million.

"Geographical indication status is of great value to the Scotch whisky industry and ensures we have the tools we need to protect consumers and stop unfair competition."

Scotch recently gained the same legal protection in Botswana and is now officially recognised in the laws of nearly 100 countries.

Brian Olley, the British High Commissioner to Cameroon, said: "This is an historic moment and a practical step forward in providing protection to guard against improper use of the name Scotch whisky."