Wine imports drop pending cut in duty

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 February, 2007, 12:00am

For years, Nick Pegna, managing director of wine merchant Berry Brothers & Rudd in Hong Kong, has been asked the same question about possible cuts in alcohol duties: how soon and how much?

Now, amid mounting public expectations of a reduction in duties, the company is importing less wine from its cellars in Europe.

'Over the last six months, the proportion of wine we ship to Hong Kong on behalf of our customers has been 30 per cent lower compared to a year ago,' Mr Pegna said. People are delaying purchases, anticipating that local duties will fall. About 60 per cent of the stock sold in London, for example, was awaiting shipment to Hong Kong.

But sales had continued to be strong since Christmas, even during the traditional lull after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Mr Pegna believes Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen might not tinker with alcohol duties to avoid being seen as favouring himself, given his fondness for red wine.

It is widely believed the the budget will contain measures to boost economic and tourism growth, such as a cut in the wine duty.