Irish whiskey is now by far the largest - and fastest growing - EU spirits export to the continent of Africa, the Irish Whiskey Association has claimed today.

As part of the official schedule of the EU-Africa Business Forum, an online event, "#DiscoverIrishWhiskey: Leading EU spirits exports to Africa" is being held today.

The EU-Africa Business Forum takes place every three years in conjunction with the EU-Africa Union Summit.

It brings together African and EU business leaders and political decision makers to look at how to improve the investment climate and increase economic partnership opportunities between the two continents.

The Irish Whiskey Association said that over 670,000 cases - over 8 million bottles - of Irish whiskey were sold across the African continent in 2020.

Initial reports also suggest strong growth again in 2021, particularly in Nigeria which has become one of Irish whiskey's fastest growing markets in the world.

The Irish Whiskey Association has today called for a reduction in high tariffs on EU spirits across the African market, particularly in those markets where the EU has put in place economic partnership agreements which have delivered widespread tariff reductions for other EU goods.

Irish whiskeys face a 20% tariff in Nigeria and 25% tariffs in each of Zambia, Kenya and Uganda.

William Lavelle, Director of the Irish Whiskey Association, said reducing tariffs will help grow Irish whiskey exports and support more jobs and more purchasing of Irish barley.

"It will also reduce costs for African consumers and tackle illicit trade which is costing African governments substantially in terms of lost taxes and excise," he added.

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy said that Irish whiskey has gone through a revival in recent years, building on a tradition of excellence and now charting a new path with sustainability and innovation at its heart.