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China may increase imports of US alcohol beverages

China is among the top-10 markets globally to watch this year for growth in the consumption of US alcoholic beverages, according to an industry trade group.

Despite being ranked the 20th largest import market for US distilled spirits, volume to China increased 20.4 percent in 2015 compared to 2014, bringing the projected total value of exports to the country for the year to $17.2 million, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). The organization bases its figures from the US government, which so far has released export numbers only through November.

"I think there's a lot of interest [in China] in whiskeys in particular - American whiskies such as bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, and rye whiskey, which is a smaller category and one that's growing," Christine LoCascio, senior vice-president of international issues and trade at the DISCUS, told China Daily on Tuesday on the sidelines of an analyst and media event for the spirits industry in New York.

She said the US spirits industry is not seeing any measurable impact of China's slowing economy on exports."Chinese consumers continue to be fascinated by American spirits," LoCascio said.

Producers of US spirits saw revenue increase in 2015 by $950 million to $24.1 billion over 2014, and exports increased by 2.3 percent to 215 million cases, she said. But a stronger US dollar meant that exports were more expensive, and revenue declined 0.3 percent through November 2015. While US exports were up in 2015, LoCascio said overseas consumers are switching to less expensive US spirits brands.