Permits to import wine, spirits due by end of year, official says

Wine is at the top of the list for granting official import permits for foreign-made alcohol and the permits should be granted by the end of the year, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce’s Directorate of Trade.

He said official permits for importing foreign liquor would also be ready by the end of the year.

“We are trying to obtain official import permits for wine and after that, we work on import permits for different types of foreign liquors,” said Hla Tun, an assistant director at the Directorate of Trade. “Policies for liquor imports are not that different from those for wine, so they have been included in the draft wine-import policy. We still have a few sections to add, but we are aiming to have the permits ready this year,” Hla Tun added.

The Yangon Region Parliament approved this month a draft law raising tax on beverage trading. It will see taxes increase from 200 to 400 per cent on the wholesale price of foreign alcoholic beverages. It will also increase the cost of distilling licences.

Licences for distributers of foreign brands of STRONG alcoholic beverages will rise from US$1,200 to $3000. Licences for small-sized alcohol distillers will rise from $1,200 to US$5,000. Medium-sized distilleries will see their licences rise from $2,400 to $10.000, and large distilleries will see their licences rise from $3,600 to $15,000.

Importers of foreign liquor will require a beverage license and at least one representative in the country.

The move marks the first time imports of liquor from foreign countries will be allowed officially. Further plans will see cigarette and beer imports require official permits. The move is aimed at raising tax revenues, reducing the black market trade and giving the government more control over the products’ distribution in Myanmar.

There are about 41,210 wholesale and retail liquor businesses in 330 townships nationwide, 73 alcohol distilleries, four beer factories and 40 wine makers, according to the latest data. It is estimated that there are 410 illicit alcohol distilleries, as well as 228 businesses that rebottle alcohol and then distribute it.


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