NORWAY: New Government to shake up drinks sector
Norway’s newly-elected centre-right Government is about to herald a major shake-up of the country’s drinks sector.
Both the Conservatives (Høyre) and the Progress Party (Framskrittspartiet), who are partners in the country's coalition, both back the sale of high abv beer and wine in grocery stores. Moreover, the coalition aims to liberalise cross-border purchases by increasing the present NOK200 (US$33.50) limit to NOK1,000 ($166) for both duty-free shopping and products purchased from VAT-free foreign online stores.
The proposals are opposed by trade groups that are battling against falling sales in Norway, in the face of rising cross-border imports of cheaper beer, spirits and soft drinks from Sweden and Russia. Vin- og Brennevinleverandørenes Forening (Norwegian Wine & Spirit Suppliers) estimates the proposed liberalisation could cost the sector NOK10bn ($1.7bn) a year in lost sales.
At present, only beers and wines with an abv of 4.75% or lower can be sold in grocery stores. State-owned Vinmonopolet retains the monopoly on the sale of alcohol with a higher abv rating.
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