Indonesia liquor retailers brace for downturn

Indonesia liquor retailers fear the recent surprise increase in import tariffs on wine and spirits could more than double the price of some drinks.

Indonesia’s Muslim-controlled government is effectively declaring war on drinkers. In April liquor sales were banned from convenience stores – a move recently blamed by Dairy Farm International for the closure of many of its convenience stores in Indonesia and prompting a strategic review of the entire chain.

Last month the government announced shock tariff increases on a raft of imported products in a 1970s-styled economic move to protect inefficient local industry and deter imports. This despite its inclusion in the ASEAN bloc which encourages free trade within the region.

Drinks industry executives told news agency Reuters the tariffs could “more than double prices” that were already sky-high, even by Asian standards. They fear an increase in smuggling activities and a black market for fake alcohol which is already an issue in China and Vietnam, leading to fatalities from people drinking chemical-enhanced fluids sold in fake branded bottles.

The new tariffs, which took effect on July 23, force importers to pay 90 per cent duty on the value of wine and 150 per cent on spirits. The previous regime was a fixed amount per litre.

“It’s quite a shock to the industry,” Dendy Borman, a board member at the International Spirit and Wine Association, told Reuters.

And it could get even worse. Two extremist Islamic political parties want all liquor consumption in the country completely outlawed.


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