Business Irish

Sunday 18 March 2018

Irish import taxes much lower than international average, study finds

Whiskey was found to have a higher excise duty here than in the UK
Whiskey was found to have a higher excise duty here than in the UK

John Cradden

Ireland has one of the lowest import tax burdens in the world in proportion to the size of its economy but is still slightly higher than the EU average, according to a new global study.

The study, conducted by international accounting and consultancy network UHY, looked at customs duties levied by 18 economies around the world as a percentage of each economy's size and found that Ireland import taxes equate to 0.15pc of its gross domestic product, compared to a global average of 0.48pc.

The firm attributed this to high levels of trade with other EU member states.

Alan Farrelly of UHY Farrelly Dawe White, a member of UHY, said: "Consumers in Ireland are getting a good deal as a result of the low import duty burden on goods from abroad, and businesses of course also benefit from the open competition that comes from being able to export freely across the whole of the EU."

Farrelly said the position of EU member states could be further enhanced if the EU could negotiate more effective trade agreements with non-EU trading partners, and also that the current political turmoil over possible Greek and UK exits from the EU should not distract from these efforts.

Among the Irish data used in the study was a recent Revenue cross-border comparison of prices for 16 different products like alcohol, cigarettes and fuel between Dublin and Newry. It found that excise duty on vodka, whiskey and sparkling wine is considerably higher here than in the UK, while the duty cigarettes and petrol and diesel is lower. Responding to the survey, IBEC senior economist Gerard Brady pointed out that Irish excise duties are the highest in the EU for wine and the third highest for both beer and spirits. "As a result Irish alcohol prices are the second highest in Europe (after Finland) at 173pc of the EU average." But it is not clear whether cutting excise duty on these products would have a noticeable effect on Ireland's average import tax burden.

The study also noted that while the amount levied in duties is a useful measure of the impact of a country's trade barriers, some countries may impose additional taxes that disproportionately affect imports.

China, for instance, imposes higher import duty rates on foreign luxury goods as well as a consumption tax on goods such as alcohol, tobacco, cars and cosmetics; categories in which the most popular brands are often foreign.

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