By Claire West

Business Secretary Vince Cable on Monday will sign an agreement with the Chinese authorities whereby the Chinese recognise Scotch Whisky as whisky produced in Scotland, which industry experts estimate will increase sales by tens of millions of pounds a year.

The registration of Scotch Whisky as a Geographical Indication means Scotch Whisky on sale in China can only be sold according to UK rules, giving consumers greater certainty that the product bought is genuine.

In a market currently worth £80m a year, the Scotch Whisky Association estimates sales in China will grow by 100 per cent in the next four to five years as a result of the GI registration.

The Business Secretary said:

“Scotch Whisky is a brand recognised worldwide so it is important all consumers should have confidence that the product they are buying is genuine. This agreement means greater legal protection in China which will only help strengthen export sales of this successful Scottish product.”

The registration is a result of the collective work of UK Trade & Investment, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Scotch Whisky Association and the British Embassy Beijing.

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said:

“This is great news for Scotch Whisky producers, who already enjoy global success and now have an unparalleled chance to build on this in another huge export market. If it says Scotch Whisky on the bottle, it will be Scotch Whisky in the bottle in China's bars, restaurants, hotels and homes.”

China is seen as an emerging market for whisky, with exports growing from £1 million in 2001 to some £80 million in 2009.

With a population of more than 1.3 billion, China is currently Asia’s second largest food and drink market by value after Japan. The Chinese spirits market generated total revenues of $8.6 billion in 2008 and it is expected to reach a value of $11.3 billion by 2013.