New figures out yesterday show that in the first six months of 2010, Scotch whisky exports were up 17% on the same time last year – and the rise has been down to an increasing taste for the product among the status-conscious middle-classes in countries where the recession has not hit so badly. Next week ministers are expected give a further boost to the industry and to potential sales when they sign an agreement with China that will protect its status in one of the biggest overseas markets, currently worth £80m a year. Estimates suggest sales in China will grow by 100 %in the next four to five years as a result of the deal that will finally recognise Scotch whisky as whisky produced in Scotland. It will help fend off Chinese producers who are taking advantage of China’s growing taste for whisky, with at least 200 imitation products identified in the past two years. Latest figures show the biggest rise in exports was to South Korea, where the market has grown by 69%. Singapore was up 38%, South Africa was up 44% and Taiwan was up 21%. Daily Telegraph, p36