Fruit wine boxes face the axe, but not those hefty prices HAILAND is one of the most expensive places on the planet to drink wine.
Why is that? Tax, mostly. An astronomical 400%, or thereabouts, comprising import duty and excise duty, which together have made even the most ordinary ‘vin ordinaire’ from overseas seriously pricey. Not surprisingly, importers faced with hefty fees like this look for ways to beat the system and one solution has been to under-invoice the real cost of the wine. (Speaking nicely to the customs guys sometimes also worked, according to insiders). Having seen through these various ruses, the authorities have introduced a new system to calculate the cost of imported wine. Now, every product imported is the responsibility of an exclusive agent. Nobody else can bring into Thailand that same wine. To qualify for this exclusivity, importers have to register endless copies of the bottles’ labels, back and front, to customs officials who can no longer be fooled about the real value of the wine. The import and excise duties are both 60% of the wine CIF (cost insurance freight) landed in Thailand, plus other smaller costs like handling fees. For wines valued at above 1,000 baht per bottle, there’s an additional 190 baht duty to be paid. This shake-up of official procedures will also impact fruit wine, which is either brought into Thailand in containers as concentrates and then fortified with local ingredients before bottling here or bottled in nearby Vietnam which enjoys lower duties as part of ASEAN and then imported into the kingdom. Henceforth, the taxes on fruit wine will increase substantially, making it far less attractive to
consumers. Boxes of fruit wine sold mostly through the big supermarkets are already disappearing because of the higher duties. None of this will come as good news to wine lovers, including those who have happily drunk relatively inexpensive fruit wine unaware of its real composition. Tourists are often shocked by the cost of wine in Thailand compared to much lower prices back home. Behind the scenes, a struggle is going on between several of Thailand’s biggest companies over the wine business, especially as the still-small ladies segment of wine drinkers shows all the signs of a massive increase, which will have serious repercussions on established drinks brands. Meanwhile, there’s apparently little chance of any new beer companies entering the Thai market. Even though they face no legal barriers, new entrants would find it hard to overcome some tough hurdles with regard to environmental considerations – all of which are supported by lobbyists from the country’s big brewers. So there’s no good news concerning lower wine prices in Thailand. Even fruit wine is about to become very expensive, if it survives as a product at all. And Thailand’s biggest beer companies will continue to run the show in terms of price since imported ‘craft’ beers will face the same regulations as wine.
Hard to pinpoint the real buffet gluttons
hotel in Pattaya was in the media spotlight recently for charging foreigners more than locals for its buffet. The motive, one supposes, is that foreigners are bigger and therefore eat more. This is obviously ridiculous since shrewd diners, regardless of nationality, head straight for the ex-
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