Coca-Cola Co. is pressing governments in Eastern Africa to cut excise duty and encourage growth in the soft drinks industry throughout the region.

Coke's local bottler, Coca-Cola Sabco (CCS), said Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania had harmonised taxes and had teamed up with Coke to lobby governments in each country to end their "discriminatory" duty regime.

"The aim for both companies is to achieve a fair tax policy in each country, with the commitment to invest behind growth in the right economic context," a CCS spokesman told just-drinks today (21 April). He pointed to a recent pledge by Coke CEO Neville Isdell to invest US$135m in Kenya over the next five years with CCS' local arm, Nairobi Bottling Co.

"Excise taxes are discriminatory and normally levied on products with potentially negative social consequences," the spokesman said. "This type of taxation prevents us from growing our business as much as we would like - which, in the end, is there to benefit everyone. In 2004, Kenya, for example, reduced its excise tax by 5% and this had a very positive effect on growth in the industry, creating many new jobs."