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E-Malt.com News article: 3574

Sweden: A decision on whether Sweden will slash its alcohol taxes by some 40 % is expected in early spring, Sweden's recently appointed finance minister Paer Nuder said Monday, November 1, according to Associated Press. At a gathering of Nordic finance ministers in the historic Villa Bonnier in Stockholm, the finance minister said a decision on alcohol tax could be presented with the government's spring budget. "But we won't take a stance until all the facts are on the table," Nuder said in his first public appearance as Sweden's finance minister.

Nuder said the decision was difficult, but that it was important to consider providing competitive pricing as a way of defending the state-owned alcohol retailer, Systembolaget.

The Nordic countries, especially Norway and Sweden, slap heavy taxes on alcohol to discourage use. However, lower prices and ease of access in other countries are pressing the Nordic governments to cut their alcohol taxes. Norwegian Finance Minister Per-Kristian Foss, however, said that Norway has no plans to cut alcohol taxes in 2005 and that the country will instead "closely monitor what will happen in Sweden because it influences the trade in Norway."

Foss said that Norway hasn't made room for any tax cuts on alcohol in the budget presented for 2005. A budget revision is expected next summer.The Nordic countries have some of the highest taxes on alcohol in Europe and the world, but some recently have been forced to cut the rates, by as much as 40 percent in Finland and Denmark, to meet competition.

The cuts were made to reduce imports from such EU countries as Germany and the newly joined Baltic states, where alcohol taxes are much lower. The reductions also sting the Nordic countries' own tax revenues.

03 November, 2004

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