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Diageo credits its export success to EU, warns UK not to leave: FT

Bottles of Johnnie Walker whisky move along on the production line at the Diageo owned Shieldhall bottling plant in Glasgow, Scotland March
Bottles of Johnnie Walker whisky move along on the production line at the Diageo owned Shieldhall bottling plant in Glasgow, Scotland March

(Reuters) - Diageo Plc , the world's biggest spirits company has warned against Britain leaving the European Union, crediting the bloc's global trade deals for the company's whisky exports success, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The maker of Johnnie Walker whisky, Smirnoff vodka and Guinness beer has the biggest production center in the UK, which generates about 3.9 billion pounds of Scotch whisky exports.

In an interview with the FT, Diageo Chief Executive Ivan Menezes said it would be difficult to sell British-made brands across the world without the advantages of the EU's 31 international trade agreements, recently concluded with countries such as Colombia and South Korea. (http://link.reuters.com/kac96v)

"The major benefit for Diageo, for our industry, is in global trade and in having the EU as a significant bloc promoting global trade," Menezes told the FT.

He told the FT that he was keen for the bloc to conclude deals with the Asean group of southeast Asian nations and the Mercosur bloc in Latin America.

Diageo needed the "efficiency" of the European single market to ensure that its EU business did not have to grapple with different labeling rules or intellectual property rights across countries, Menezes told the newspaper.

He expected Diageo to remain in the country while it had the "right environment to compete globally."

He declined to tell the FT whether Diageo would stay in London if the British voted to leave.

(Reporting by Aashika Jain in Bangalore. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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