Letter: Duty-free deal will kill wine trade

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WHO EXACTLY is going to reap the benefits of the Government's new tax-free gesture ('Hyperactive drinkers hail the single market', 3 January)? The agreement reached with the European Commission - regarding taxes on alcohol and tobacco - now makes it possible for the haves to have more and the have-nots to pay more (that is, duty). Entrepreneurs, opportunists and cowboy traders are going to have a field day because, it would seem, Customs and Excise have no legal power to enforce the 'rules'. Small businesses will go to the wall. Unless legislation is brought in to force opportunists to become legal, registered traders, the wine and spirit trade will suffer the consequences. Not a single bottle is exempt from duty if you are a legitimate trader.

Richard M B Lever

Stockport, Cheshire