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Customs Duties (Alcoholic Beverages)

Volume 15: debated on Monday 14 December 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has taken any steps to seek the removal of customs duties applied by certain European Free Trade Area countries on spirituous beverages produced by the United Kingdom.

The free trade agreements between the European Free Trade Association provide for duty-free trade in industrial goods, but not in spirituous beverages nor indeed in the majority of processed agricultural products. The Community is currently considering the possibility of extending the coverage of the agreements, so as to include spirituous beverages and a number of other products, but it is too early to predict the outcome.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether Her Majesty's Government have made formal representations to the new Government of Greece about the profit margin controls which discriminate, inter alia, against imported alcoholic beverages.

These controls affect a wide range of goods imported from all sources, and there is no special discrimination against British Alcoholic beverages. The United Kingdom has nevertheless expressed its concern to the Greek authorities, and formal representations, with particular reference to alcoholic beverages, were made as recently as October. They will be renewed at the earliest appropriate opportunity.It is the responsibility of the Commission to put a stop to any breach of European Community law. We, and other Member States also, have therefore referred the matter to them; and since they first took it up there has been some progress in respect of the control that relates to alcoholic beverages: in August the allowable profit margin was raised by 5 per cent., and the profit limit per bottle abolished. The Commisson is now actively pursuing the matter with the new Greek government.