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Brewing contributes to development across the world

On 02/07/15 by Andy Tighe (Policy Director)

The Worldwide Brewing Alliance (WBA) in conjunction with the four global brewers – AB-Inbev, Carlsberg, Heineken and SABMiller, hosted an extremely well attended beer reception on Tuesday evening to close the first day of the WTO Global Review of Aid for Trade in Geneva.

Two years ago, I was fortunate to be able to say a few welcoming remarks to over 300 delegates who, in temperatures of 35 degrees plus, were certainly ready for a beer after a full first day discussing the Aid for Trade programme. Indeed, earlier in the day, SAB Miller spoke in a session regarding their efforts to invest in and develop new value chains in Mozambique (where they are also facing the prospect of tax stamps on imported beer).

It was a great opportunity to remind delegates that the brewing tradition goes back many centuries and that beer is the world’s oldest and most widely consumed alcohol beverage and the third most popular drink globally, behind water and tea.

Beer of course also has a significant impact on economic development. Due to the way beer is produced and consumed, the brewing sector typically employs more people across the entire supply chain relative to other alcoholic drinks, and most of those jobs are local. As we have shown here in the UK, beer creates local jobs in agriculture, raw material supplies, transport, retail and, most significantly, pubs, bars and restaurants. In the EU alone, over 2 million jobs are generated from the production and sale of beer, contributing €50 billion to the EU economy, each year.

Global brewers can also bring unique insights into some of the challenges businesses, economies and societies face today. They are global businesses but also deeply embedded in the local communities in which they operate. Sourcing local raw materials, and investing in local suppliers, is part of the fabric of the brewing process. By securing the supply of quality raw materials – be that barley, maize, sorghum, cassava or rice – brewers have always had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on local and global value chains.

Whilst local sourcing and local investment are priorities for all brewers, global value chains are also a vital component of the brewing industry. From the production and shipping of raw materials used in the brewing process – especially malt and hops – to the distribution of quality brands, the international trading system is fundamental to the health of the beer sector. It was therefore an opportunity to note how the WBA looks forward to the ratification and implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. This will enable brewers – especially those in developing countries – to continue to grow and contribute to economic development around the world. Finally it was important to re-emphasise our strongly held belief that brewers large and small, global and local, have a positive impact on the societies where they operate.

Delegates were then invited to sample a range of great beers from Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond. An unsurprisingly popular event!


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