While the world grapples with how best to return to some sort of normality post Coronavirus, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association remains committed to ensuring the sector gets the best out of Brexit.
This week WSTA Chief Executive, Miles Beale, wrote to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove MP, setting out our asks and priorities for the UK’s trading landscape in 2021 after the transition period on 31st December.
Alongside the letter the WSTA launched its new Trade 21 website hub and hosted a webinar, watched by over 70 guests, to outline its vision for the UK’s wine and spirit industry.
The top priority is to ensure the UK remains at the centre of the world’s wine and spirit trade – a trade that generates almost £50 billion in economic activity supporting UK businesses and jobs.
Writing to Mr Gove, Miles Beale reiterated the WSTA’s position and to set out its call for Government action. Outlining the ‘easy wins’ he asked Government to:
· Introduce a two-year implementation period for labelling changes from 1st January 2021
· Suspend import certificates for all wine (VI1s) from 1 January 2021 pending review of need for import certification
· Commit to removing unnecessary regulation which stifles innovation for example establish new rules for the definition of flavoured gin and the use of the terms “lower, low and no alcohol”; and
· Demonstrate the UK is serious about international trade by committing to join the World Wine Trade Group
The aim is to ensure that there is as minimum as possible disruption to the flow of trade, free of import tariffs or quota restrictions and that any new checks and balances required are fit for purpose and as practicable as possible.
Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:
“While we stand fully behind the Government’s aim of securing a comprehensive future partnership agreement with the EU, many of the outcomes we are proposing are not dependent on securing a deal – nor would there be any loss of negotiating capital if the Government were to support UK businesses now in the ways we suggest.
Our asks are therefore an easy win and would allow us to secure a better future which keeps the UK as the global hub for the wine and spirit trade. By committing to act now, the Government would provide a welcome boost to the sector in these unprecedented and uncertain times.
The wine and spirit industry is in a good position to take advantage of the new opportunities leaving the EU presents, but if Government doesn’t deliver it will be venturing into a new trading landscape with its hands tied behind its back.”
The UK is the world’s largest exporter of spirits and the second largest importer of wine (both volume and value) with the EU the most important single trading block for both wine and spirits.