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Taiwan rice wine goes on sale at sharply reduced price

Taiwan rice wine goes on sale at sharply reduced price

Taipei, Sept. 16 (CNA) Locally made rice wine went on the market in Taiwan Thursday at roughly half the usual cost, as a measure to sharply reduce the excise tax on the product took effect.
Rice wine made by Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. was being sold at NT$27 per 0.6 liter bottle, and carried a new label.
The previous price of NT$50 per 0.6 liter bottle was cut after the Taiwan government reclassified the product as a cooking ingredient rather than an alcoholic drink.
Premier Wu Den-yih said at a Cabinet meeting Thursday that 97 percent of the rice wine in Taiwan is used for cooking purposes, and consumers will now be able to obtain rice wine of reliable quality at a low cost.
The price of Taiwan's rice jumped from about NT$20 to NT$180 per bottle in 2002, after the country joined the World Trade Organization, as the product was being taxed at the same rate as imported distilled spirits.
According to Minister of Finance Lee Sush-der, this led to a prevalence of bootleg rice wine. Acting on directive from Premier Wu, the finance ministry proposed a law amendment to reclassify the product as a cooking ingredient, which would be subject to a much lower exercise tax.
The amendment was passed in the legislature last month and the price cut took effect Thursday.
Tseng Chun-kai, vice general manager of the state-run Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation, said that the newly labeled rice wine went on sale Thursday at all its operation centers and retail stores around the country and will become available in supermarkets and hypermarkets Friday.
From now until Nov. 15, consumers will be allowed to redeem any unopened bottle of rice wine purchased at NT$50 for two bottles of the Red Label rice wine, Tseng added.
They will have to pay a bottle deposit of NT$4 to complete the exchange, he said.
Taiwan's move to lower it rice wine tax has not been well received by the United States and the European Union countries, which have said that it violates World Trade Organization regulations. The WTO does not accept the idea of different treatment for alcoholic products based on their ingredients, they have said.
However, Lee said that the government will continue to communicate with the WTO on the issue and will make it clear that any distilled spirit classified as cooking wine could be subject to the same level of tax as Taiwan's rice wine.
Based on the WTO's principle of equal tax treatment for domestic and imported goods, Taiwan currently imposes the same excise tax on all distilled spirits -- NT$2.5 per one percent of alcohol in a liter of the beverage.
Thus, the excise tax on a 0.6 liter bottle of rice wine with 19.25 percent alcohol content has been NT$29.25.
As a culinary wine, however, the excise tax is NT$9 per liter, regardless of the alcohol content, meaning the tax on a 0.6 liter bottle of the new Red Label rice wine has dropped to NT$5.4.
(By Lin Ye-fong and Y.L. Kao)




Updated : 2021-10-27 18:45 GMT+08:00