The state-owned Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Co (TTL) has been illegally importing Maotai (茅台酒), a Chinese-made liquor, before reselling it to China as a TTL product after reprocessing, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) told a press conference yesterday.
The company allegedly imported 60,000 liters of Maotai, labeled as vodka, which is the only Chinese-made liquor granted import permissions after Taiwan’s accession to the WTO in 2002, and mixed it with domestically made Kaoliang liquor to manufacture 240,000 bottles of Yushan Taiwan Maotai, Chao said.
The product was then sold back to China at an estimated profit of NT$10,000 per bottle, which meant the TTL, the largest manufacturer and distributor of cigarettes and alcohol in Taiwan, could make illegal profits of up to NT$2.4 billion (US$80.5 million), the lawmaker said.
Chao described the practice as smuggling and said the state-owned firm has harmed local producers and tarnished Taiwan’s international image.
He demanded that TTL chairman Hsu An-hsuan (徐安旋) and three other TTL officials be suspended and investigated over the illegal practice.
The TTL issued a press release yesterday rejecting Chao’s accusations, saying that the Yushan Maotai liquor sold in China was purchased by several Taiwanese resellers.
TLL added that it did on occasion accept customization orders for manufacturing mixed liquor products.
However, the company said it was not aware of the importation of the 60,000 liters of “vodka” on Feb. 16 last year, adding that the liquor was imported by Shandong Taijiu Liquor Co, TTL’s certified distributor in the northeast China region.