So believes Drinks Ireland, the all-island representative body for drinks producers, distributors and brand-owners, which has called on any new government there to reconsider excise tax on alcohol
The Northern Irish drinks industry is a major exporter with over six million cases of Irish whiskey, Irish cream liqueur and gin produced in Northern Ireland in 2018 of which over 80% was exported to markets other than the UK or Ireland.
The NI drinks industry is also a major investor in the Northern Irish economy and a tourism driver with attractions like Bushmills, Echlinville, Rademon Estate and the Boatyard distilleries drawing thousands of visitors every year.
However Drinks Ireland highlights the fact that the UK has the fourth-highest aggregate rate of excise on alcohol products in the EU. This means that nearly one million cases of NI-produced spirits sold in the UK market in 2018 faced this high level of taxation.
Drinks Ireland has therefore called on UK political parties to support reform of the UK alcohol excise system with a view to reducing the burden of excise on alcohol sales in the UK to sustain consumer confidence and spending patterns, support the Northern Ireland drinks industry and ensure increasing revenue to the Exchequer.
“The domestic market is hugely important for Northern Irish spirits producers, particularly for small producers like gin distilleries,” said Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan, “As such the maintenance of a supportive domestic consumer market in the UK is a key determinant in ensuring the ongoing success of the Northern Irish spirits industry which has a hugely positive impact on the Northern Irish economy.
“We saw that recent duty freezes in 2017 and 2018 have actually delivered higher revenues to the Exchequer.
“We would call on the next Government to reform the excise system with a view of supporting small Northern Irish distilleries.”
In the context of Brexit, Drinks Ireland also called on the next UK Government to seek to avoid a hard, no-deal exit at both the current stage and if it arises, following a transition period in the case that a new trade agreement is not concluded.
It said that frictionless trade and market access including within the UK, between NI and Great Britain, within the island of Ireland and between NI and the rest of the EU, was vital and it’s seeking zero tariffs on all goods traded between the EU and UK.