Protests at Icelandic meat import charges

There are indications that the import duties charged to companies importing meat to Iceland may be unlawful.

The company INNES has requested the head of Icelandic customs to investigate the legality of tolls charged on imported meat. The director of the Icelandic Federation of Trade and Services (IFTS) believes that the charges have actually been illegal since the laws changed in 2005.

A tax of over 114 percent was charged on a hundred kilogrammes of beef which INNES imported recently to sell on the Icelandic market. Andres Magnusson from the IFTS says that a recent opinion expressed by the relevant parliamentary agent is that such tolls are not constitutional.

The agent’s opinion is that the powers accorded to the agriculture minister in the area of import tariffs runs contrary to the constitution and has done since the customs law changed in 2005.

Magnusson says that it is a very serious issue, whichever way one looks at it. Since the current Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Jon Bjarnason, took over the import tariffs have gone through the roof, he says. The minister has replaced a weight tax with a value added tax.

Magnusson says meat import charges have gone up out of all proportion and have been going up at the same time as the Icelandic krona crashed in value. The provision of non-Icelandic meat has therefore become very difficult.

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