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Russia eyes loosening of alcohol restrictions - analyst

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Russia may be about to relax restrictions on beer sales and advertising that have severely impacted international brewers in the country. 

Carlsberg has been hardest hit by Russias restrictions, and has closed breweries in the country

Carlsberg has been hardest hit by Russia's restrictions, and has closed breweries in the country

According to Jefferies International analyst Edward Mundy, Russian media reports indicate that the Economy Ministry is to hold a meeting on 23 November to discuss a draught plan on the restrictions. The plan could lead to a more level playing field for beer and hard-liquor regulation, and an easing of regulations, Mundy said.

The analyst added that though there is no final agreement on the plan yet, "any easing of restrictions on beer regulation in Russia is likely to be viewed positively".

In the past few years, Russia has increased excise duty on beer and prohibited some retail channels, such as outdoor kiosks, from selling alcohol. Strict advertising laws have also been implemented - for example, halting producers from linking up with sports events.

Danish brewer Carlsberg, which is the leading brewer in Russia, has been worst affected by the changes. It has been forced to close breweries in the country and freeze employee pay.

Citing an article in Russian newspaper Kommersant, Mundy said changes to the regulations could include:

  • Separate regulation for beer from hard liquor 
  • A reversal of the kiosk ban 
  • An extension to the retailer time limits for beer sales
  • Allowing advertising at sports events, though not at youth competitions

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