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UK: Swedish drinks leaders call for tax cut

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The top wine buyer at Systembolaget, Barbro Strom, has said that the Swedish state-owned alcohol retailing monopoly can no longer compete against growing cross-border shopping by Swedes to countries with lower alcohol tax rates.

"Is the solution to lower taxes?" she asked a conference organised by Skalli & Rein at the London International Wine & Spirits Fair yesterday. "We cannot maintain high taxes, I think it is compulsory," she added.

However, she warned that lower alcohol taxes and, therefore, lower pricing could lead to consumption getting out of control.

Her comments echoed those made earlier yesterday by the man in charge of investigating cross border shopping by Swedes. Kent Harstedt said that tax on alcoholic drinks in Sweden was too high and had to be reduced.

Harstedt, who is also an MP, found that the consumption of foreign alcohol in Sweden over the last 12 months has been double those of the alcohol sales of the Swedish state-owned alcohol retailing monopoly Systembolaget.

Harstedt has not yet made any proposal as to how much the Swedish alcohol taxes must be reduced.


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