Amendment of prevailing rules governing Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) exports in the State will pave the way for tapping the immense opportunities in the global markets with Made in Kerala brands, especially among the significant consumer base of Keralites residing abroad, swelling the coffers of the government with additional revenue in the process, said an expert committee.

The committee, formed in August last year and headed by S Harikishore, Managing Director of KSIDC, suggested that Kerala leveraged its strengths in the thriving IMFL exports which were currently ruled by other states and UTs.

A petition by Gautom Menon, a private distiller in the State, had led to the constitution of the committee, which probed various measures to attract investments in the distillery sector and to boost exports, and recommended specific excise reforms.

One of the important recommendations of the committee is the relaxation of tie-up manufacturing norms for IMFL exports. This entails permitting a non-licensee after due diligence to enter into a manufacturing arrangement with a licensee in the State through a strict tie-up agreement exclusively for exports only, thus eliminating the pre-requisite of the outside party requiring to have a distillery license elsewhere.

Other suggestions included steps to streamline business operations by eliminating out-dated and unnecessary regulations that hinder business and investment potential.

However, a final decision on the recommendations has to be taken by the State Government.

Gautom Menon said there are huge opportunities to leverage the brand recall Kerala has through its IMFL exports with its traditional alcoholic beverages and the significant consumer base of passionate Keralites residing abroad.

According to Menon, the removal of unnecessary regulations would attract leading liquor manufacturing companies, bonafide entrepreneurs, NRIs and investors to set up operations in Kerala through export tie-up arrangements. This would attract more investment in the sector and more job opportunities while boosting PR for Kerala on the global stage.

The share of Kerala’s IMFL export at present is an abysmal 0.3 per cent. This is mainly because of the age-old Abkari rules. There are 17 local licensed units in the State and another 30 through tie-up. Of the 47 eligible companies, only 2 are engaged in IMFL exports.

Kerala, according to industry experts, lagged behind all exporting states with only 20,000 cases whereas UP’s share is around 15 lakh cases. In FY 22, India exported 7,100 shipments of which Kerala’s share was a disappointing 19 consignments only, mainly to West Asian destinations.