Unlike Hong Kong which went ‘duty-free’ in February 2008, abolishing all duties on wine including import duty and VAT, Singapore maintained status quo and imposes a fixed import duty of SGD 7.25 a bottle of wine irrespective of the country of origin and the value of the wine in the bottle. Additionally, there is a GST of 7% (which is still negligent when compared with 20% in India and the anticipated 23% even a wine country like Italy!).
However, on cheaper wines, costing under SGD 7.25 (Rs. 300), it does amount to over a 100%; an import at SGD 2-3 (most low-end wines, it is a whopping 300%!) The Indian wine exports that could cater to huge Indian expat population, surely feel the pinch. With a market as new to the culture of wine as India, this is rather high taxation, especially since Singapore does not produce wine and has no local industry to protect, an important factor for India. For premium luxury wines costing upwards of SGD 40- 50, the incidence becomes less than 15%, encouraging the consumption of higher- end wines.
Samples for Judging and Tasting
However, the Singapore government is sensitive to the importance of smooth running of business-including wine imports. The usual refrain in Singapore is that the government does not want to encourage alcohol consumption and hence the seemingly high taxes. But unlike India where the governments-both federal and state, use high taxes more as a cash cow to generate more revenues, rather than discourage alcohol consumption, the Singapore government does appreciate the need to sample wines for competitions and wine shows. A recent example is allowing the samples for judging at wine competitions at duty free prices making it easier to submit samples.
For WSA Wine Challenge 2012, organized last month by Singapore Exhibition Services Pte Ltd., there were about 380 samples submitted by importers and distributors, judged by three jury panels headed by Ned Goodwin MW (Japan), Fongyee Walker (China) and Subhash Arora (India), with Joel Payne (Germany) as the competition chairman. Two bottles of samples were generally adequate-perhaps three (the international standard) might have been better-a few of the wines were corked and one or two might have needed a third bottle to get an absolute justice. ‘We have to do a tight rope walking but we generally manage it quite well,’ says Roderic Proniewski, the French expat wine consultant who has been conducting the Challenge on behalf of the organizers.
Tasting at Wine&SpritAsia
The Award winning wines will be available for tasting at the biennial Food&HotelAsia2012 and Wine&SpiritAsia2012, Asia’s largest food and hospitality trade event ready to open next week in Singapore from 17-20 April. Five specialized trade shows – FoodAsia, Bakery&Pastry, HotelAsia, HospitalityStyleAsia and HospitalityTechnology-each tailored to provide industry with direct access to latest products, services and technological solutions are gearing up.
The wines would be made available by the organizers after payment of usual duties, Stephen Tan, CEO of Singapore Exhibition Services (SES) informed delWine at a gala dinner organized for the judges on March 22. Stephen added that exhibitors are allowed three bottles of every participating label for each day of participation at the Show, free of duties. The system is of course strictly monitors the Show but the exhibitors and producers taking part in the WSA Challenge and the Show are generally satisfied with the arrangement.
The same policy is applicable also for Wines for Asia-another wine show held annually in September/October. The policy has been existent not since long and was the result of constant lobbying with the government by the organizers of both the exhibitions. In India, the duties are a deterrent for entries and the procedures are so complex that the international wine competitions have been but killed- duties and procedure being the major factors in their demise. Participation in various wine shows is also generally choked due to the same reason.
Curtain Raiser for FHA2012
On the related topic, the five specialized shows will make FHA2012 the largest edition with 87,000 square meters of exhibition area spread across nine halls. More than 2,600 exhibitors from 65 countries or regions and 52 international group pavilions will exhibit at a single location and welcome over 54,000 visitors from over 90 countries and regions including India.
There will be a series of competitions where culinary chefs and pastry masters will vie for the title of Asia’s best. FHA2012 Culinary Challenge, FHA2012 Imperial Challenge (held once every four years to reveal highest levels of Chinese banqueting techniques and artistry), FHA Barista Challenge– which seeks to boost baristas as a professional career and cultivate Asian appreciation of specialty coffee; and the Asian Pastry Cup – the official pre-selection platform to the World Pastry Cup held in Lyon- France, will make an exciting arena for the contestants in these fields.
It appears The Singapore Sting is a reality which is not going to affect the participation of exhibitors and visitors alike during the four days next week. Bon Voyage to the exhibitors and visitors from India.