Brazil cuts beer duties to avoid shortages

BRASILIA - Brazil has slashed beer duties to avoid shortages during the World Cup, after local brewers warned they would be unable to meet surging demand despite sharply increasing production.

The government said on Wednesday it will cut import levies on canned beer to 2 percent from 16 percent for the June tournament, which Brazil will host in 2014.

"The industry itself declared in a letter to the Foreign Trade Chamber that it won't be able to satisfy the increase in demand," said Anamelia Seyffarth, an official at the chamber, announcing the cut.

Brazil is the world's fourth largest beer consumer.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his wife gave the players a send-off at his palace in the capital Brasilia on Wednesday, hugging the stars and wishing them luck before they jetted off to World Cup host South Africa.

Bank workers in the nation of 190 million have also been granted a request to quit work early on days when Brazil plays so they can watch the games live on television

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