Coffee campaign aims to cause a buzz

Take note – story published 1 year and 3 months ago

If you've ever pondered why your morning coffee in Tallinn or Vilnius seems to be cheaper than in Rīga, a new campaign on the 'ManaBalss' (My voice) petition site may have the answer.

"Why is coffee more expensive in Latvia compared to Estonia and Lithuania? Because coffee is subject to excise tax. Latvia is one of the few European countries whose legislation provides for an excise tax on coffee. This tax is traditionally applied to goods that are harmful to humans and the environment, and it increases the final price of coffee by 1.45 euros/kg. As a result, the excise tax required by the state is paid by the final consumer of coffee - the person who enjoys this drink, consuming it both at home and in public catering establishments," says the signature drive

"By cancelling the excise duty on coffee, the final consumer will primarily benefit, equalizing the price increase compared to the Baltic neighboring countries. Also, unnecessary bureaucratic burdens will be removed for both existing coffee business participants and new companies," the campaign says.

One of the people behind the campaign is someone who knows more than most about coffee – Jorge Barreto who comes originally from Brazil and has been living in Latvia for six years. 

"Three years ago I got involved in a new business. My family grows coffee in Brazil and I am responsible for the sales of this coffee in Europe. When we started organizing our European distribution strategy we obviously thought of opening a SIA [Latvian limited company] and centralizing everything in Rīga, where I currently live. The idea would be to import the coffee here, through the Port of Riga and then from here sell/distribute to our clients around the continent," Jorge told LSM.

"When considering everything and studying which taxes we would have to pay, what would be our costs etc, we found out that Latvia is one of the few European countries that still charges excise duty for coffee. Long story short, at the end of the day that means we would have to pay more upfront when clearing our coffee through customs in Rīga, that would have a big impact on our cash flow which made us decide against setting up shop in Rīga. We moved our operations up to Tallinn, as Estonia does not charge the excise duty for coffee any more – and neither does Lithuania," said Jorge.

"At the end of the day, the final consumer of coffee in Latvia is paying for this extra tax. Drinking a coffee in Latvia is more expensive than in both Estonia and Lithuania because of this excise duty. As coffee prices around the world continue to go up, it's about time that this duty is scrapped in Latvia, so people who enjoy coffee can pay an actual fair price for it. And we who work in the coffee industry can bring in more business and jobs related to coffee to Latvia."

You can see the campaign on the ManaBalss website here: If and when campaigns on ManaBalss receive 10,000 signatures, they are referred to the Saeima for discussion.

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