Rising beer taxes have contributed to the closure of about 100 bars in Northern Ireland, it was claimed.
Pubs Of Ulster, the professional body of the retail licensed trade, said continuation of the controversial beer duty escalator could force hundreds more businesses to shut with the loss of thousands of jobs.
Colin Neill, Pubs of Ulster chief executive, said: “One of the biggest issues threatening the survival of pubs in Northern Ireland is the beer duty escalator.
“Overall, since its introduction in 2008, duty has risen by 42% and the UK now pays more duty per unit of alcohol than any country in the EU except Finland.
“With pubs struggling to come through the ongoing economic storm, as well as trying to meet the many other financial demands that come with owning a pub, the beer duty escalator is an unnecessary burden that we believe will sound the death-knell for hundreds of pubs.”
The beer duty escalator was introduced under Labour four years ago. It means tax on beer rises automatically with inflation, at plus 2% every year.