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Published:  23 July, 2008

The Wine & Spirit Association (WSA) has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to cut the excise duty on wines and spirits by 4%, as a first step' towards bringing UK rates in line with our EU neighbours. In its 2003 Budget submission, the WSA also recommends that: * the duty on sparkling wine should be the same as that on still wine; * there should be a reduction in excise duties for small English and Welsh wineries, similar to concessions small brewers gained last year; and * RTDs (ready-to-drinks) should have their own category, with duty set in two bands, of which the higher is 3.6-5% alcohol by volume, with a duty level equivalent to beer. The WSA's Quentin Rappoport told Harpers that the submission document has been handed over to Gordon Brown and that a WSA deputation will meet John Heeley, economic secretary to the Treasury, on 6 February. Rappoport said: The Budget is always a critical aspect of the WSA's activities and this year is no exception. The need to present arguments for reduced taxation continues, despite increasing demands on the public purse. Last year's freeze on wine and spirits duty was welcome, but the unexpected - and unresearched - hike in rates on RTDs was ill thought-out and has created much confusion within the category.'