Mexico soda tax plan sparks row

Mexico soda tax plan sparks row

MEXICO CITY - Agence France-Presse
Mexico soda tax plan sparks row

Despite the New York Mayor Bloomberg has praised the Mexican government’s soda tax move, companies, including Coca-Cola voice criticism.

President Enrique Pena Nieto’s plan to tax sugary drinks to curb Mexico’s obesity epidemic earned him praise from New York’s mayor and health advocates but soda makers slammed it as ineffective.

Pena Nieto wants Mexicans to pay an extra peso (almost 8 US cents) for every liter of sweetened drink in a country that guzzles more soft drinks than any other and rivals the United States for the dubious honor of world’s most obese nation.

If Congress approves the tax, Mexico would join France in introducing a special levy on sodas. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose plan to ban giant soft drinks from restaurants was rejected by an appeals court in July, exchanged pleasantries with Pena Nieto on Twitter.

The Mexican leader replied: “I thank @MikeBloomberg for the recognition of the important reform agenda we are leading in Mexico. I hope to greet you in NY soon.” But Coca-Cola de Mexico argued in a statement that “a tax on beverages is ineffective to combat a problem as complex as obesity.” “To change behaviors effectively, we need to ensure people understand that all calories count, regardless of the source – and that includes our caloric beverages too,” the company said.

Mexico lead soda consumption

Coca-Cola said studies show that soft drinks account for between 5.5 percent and 6.6 percent of calories in the average Mexican diet, “so it is difficult to understand why beverages are viewed by some as the primary cause of weight gain.” Pena Nieto’s plan, part of a wider fiscal reform he announced Sept. 8 to improve tax collection, cites statistics showing that Mexico leads the world in soda consumption with 163 liters (43 gallons) per capita per year compared to 118 liters in the United States.

The 2012 national health survey shows that just under a third of Mexicans are obese compared to 35.7 percent in the United States, according to the latest official US figures.