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Vietnam drops proposal to ban sidewalk beer sales

Thursday, October 02, 2014, 18:07 GMT+7
Vietnam drops proposal to ban sidewalk beer sales
Drinkers are pictured at a sidewalk beer café in Hanoi.

A proposed ban on selling beer on the sidewalk and several other controversial propositions have been withdrawn from the draft decree on beer production and consumption management in Vietnam, the body behind the legal document said Thursday.

The amendments were made after the Light Industry Department which composed the draft decree received feedback from beer businesses and associations, Phan Chi Dung, head of the agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

The draft fiat no longer contains the clause that prohibits beer from being sold on the sidewalk, as well as stipulations that ban beer sales to people showing signs of being under the influence, or pregnant and breastfeeding women, Dung said.

But these groups of consumers must be featured in warnings on beer labels, the official said.

Meanwhile, the proposition that beer companies must place stamps on their products to fight counterfeits, warn drinkers of alcohol abuse, and prevent tax evasion has been preserved, Dung added.

The proposed ban on sidewalk beer sales generated a wave of objections from beer companies, sellers, and drinkers immediately after it was unveiled early last month.

But Nguyen Van Viet, chairman of the Vietnam Beer Alcohol Beverage Association, said what is most worrying is the beer stamping regulation, which he believed would have a much greater impact on beer brewers.

Viet said the suggestion must be withdrawn as it would directly and financially affect beer companies, which would lose money on stamping their products.

The tentative regulation was also blasted as “too costly” by Vu Xuan Dung, deputy general director of the Hanoi Beer, Alcohol, and Beverage JSC.

Enacting the regulation would mean Vietnam has to stamp 10 billion units (cans or bottles) of beer a year, given its annual production of around three billion liters of beer, Dung said at a conference in Hanoi on September 9.

The event was hosted by the industry and trade ministry to solicit feedback on the draft beer decree. Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa ordered after the conference that the light industry department review the draft decree to cross out articles considered infeasible.

Given that a stamp costs VND160, the total expense for stamping every unit would be VND1.6 trillion (US$75.31 million) a year, according to Dung’s calculation.

Nguyen Tien Sy, deputy head of marketing of the Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage JSC, calculated that stamping the firm's products would cost it VND800 billion ($37.65 million) a year.

“This would greatly affect our salary fund and social costs,” he said, adding that it could also “create a market for fake stamps.”

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