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Drinks Industry Worried About Post-Brexit Duty-Free Sales

By Dave Simpson

The National Off-Licence Association of Ireland has asserted that the sale of duty-free alcohol in the UK post-Brexit would spell "disaster" for the Irish drinks industry.

The Irish Independent reports that the Association is concerned about the implications of Irish residents stocking up on duty-free alcohol while travelling to and from Britain, claiming that such an eventuality would adversely impact the spirits market in Ireland.

The Association's government affairs director, Evelyn Jones, stated, "Even if you consider the numbers of Irish returning home at key holiday periods, you're looking at significant numbers of people who will be able to purchase duty-free alcohol and bring it into Ireland. The ironic thing is that a lot of it will be Irish production, Irish whiskey exported and then reimported."

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Jones also expressed concerns about the potential for smuggling more than the legal allowance of duty-free alcohol into the country, proclaiming, "It will have a very serious impact on spirits and I would imagine in particular premium spirits, which are more expensive. If you are limited in terms of quantity, then people will go premium. This is happening even now. So duty-free will then be an absolute disaster."

Similarly, head of the Irish Whiskey Association William Lavelle warned, "Ireland has the second-highest alcohol tax in the EU. This acts as an incentive for shoppers to buy alcohol outside of Ireland, a problem that will be made even worse if duty-free sales are reinstated."

Lavelle believes that in order to curb the affect of duty-free sales post-Brexit, "immediate action [needs to be] taken to address Ireland's disproportionately high alcohol taxes."

A Revenue representative responded by saying Revenue's planning for post-Brexit "is based on the full range of possibilities, including that customs controls or processes of some form will apply between Ireland and the UK. Revenue supports voluntary compliance by targeting and delivering a proportionate and effective response to non-compliance. Tackling shadow economy activity in all its forms is, and will continue to be, a key priority in Revenue's drive to maximise compliance and protect legitimate trade."

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