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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kudrin Backs Better Beer

Brewers gave a weary welcome Tuesday to a government decision to halve import duties on aluminum cans and foreign equipment.

An upbeat Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin said the move would finally let Russians "drink world-class beer at lower prices."

But the nation's leading brewery was more morbid. "It's like sewing severed fingers back on," Baltika spokesman Alexei Kedrin said. "This news would have been better had they not increased import duty on cans back in January."

The decision is technically a recommendation, but it is widely expected to be adopted by the end of the year. When it does, the duty will drop from 41 euros ($41) per 1,000 cans to 22 euros, while duties on foreign brewing equipment will drop to 5 percent from 10 percent.

The Brewers' Union was outraged by the January hike, but a spokesman for the committee that made the decision defended it, saying local can makers invested $111 million to expand production as a result.

National beer consumption shrank sharply in October for the first time in several years, dropping 8 percent, but demand for cans continues to outstrip domestic supply -- by some estimates, domestic production is expected to fall short of demand by as many as 1 billion cans next year.

Several brewers, most noticeably Baltika, long relied on Polish can producer Canpak, but turned to Rostar, Russian Aluminum's domestic producer, after the January hike.