THAI CRAFT BREWERS HIT BY NEW STEALTH BARRIERS FOR PRODUCTION LICENCES
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Source: Thai Craft Beers/Facebook
Despite that the Thai government has removed capital and capacity requirements for liquor production last November, small-scale brewers and distillers still cannot get production licences due to other newly installed hurdles.
Enacted on 2 November last year, the new ministerial regulation on liquor and beer production, though having removed the capital and capacity barriers, requires small brewers and distillers to submit an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report when applying for a licence.
However, Thailand’s environmental law states that a brewer must produce at least 7.2 million litres per year to be eligible to even seek an EIA.
The 7.2m litres threshold is much higher than the 100,000 litres annual capacity previously needed for a production licence.
Many of the Thai craft beers now selling in the Thai market are brewed in neighbouring countries and shipped back to Thailand.
“Nothing has really changed in practice,” said opposition Move Forward MP Taopiphop Limjittrakorn who championed an opposition’s bill to liberalise liquor production in the parliament.
“An entrepreneur who recently sought a licence for their brewpub was told by excise officials that he needs an EIA report,” the MP said.
“But when he contacted the EIA authorities, he was told his business is too small for an EIA. Aspiring small-time brewers still face complicated processes and imminent dead ends,” he added.
Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam claims the government has acted in the best interests of everyone involved.
“We have eased the regulations because people complained the old ones were too strict,” he said.
“The bill promoted by the opposition is seen as too lenient. We believe this new regulation offers a middle path.”
The Thai government removed the requirements of capital investment of Baht 10m and annual production of at least 100,000 litres for beer production licence last November, just ahead of a parliament reading of the opposition’s bill.
Instead of allowing craft producers to compete with the dominating giants, the new regulations have actually put in some new stealth barriers to discourage market entry.
(the writer can be contacted at: email@example.com)
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