Deal And Out. Breaking Free Of EU Regulations Offers Wine And Spirit Trade Opportunities

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association is calling on its members to “embrace a brave new world of trading” as Britain leaves the EU.

After years of uncertainty and false deadlines the WSTA believes that, following a trade deal with the EU, the UK wine and spirit industry can focus on opportunities.

The WSTA has made it clear to government it wants to get the best out of Brexit; and has drawn up its key asks:

  • Securing an FTA and building a strong new relationship with the EU
  • Zero tariffs – permanently – on all wine and spirit imports
  • Joining the World Wine Trade Group
  • Dropping some EU rules, increasing trade, providing greater consumer choice
  • Revising definitions to allow UK distillers to innovate
  • Improving on existing technology to make trading even easier

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:

“It’s time to complete a trade deal with the EU – and move on. The wine and spirit industry must embrace a brave new world of trading. We need to focus on the opportunities and to steer government towards breaking down barriers on trade, while also reinforcing the UK’s position at the centre of international wine and spirit trading.

We have started with some clear asks of government which, if practical steps are taken, we believe will keep the UK as the world’s number one spirit exporter, but could also see us take the top spot as the world’s largest wine importer by volume – from Germany.

Our aim is to leave behind some clunky and outdated EU rules, while maintaining consumer confidence in the safety and quality of wine and spirits; and to find a way to free up trade through innovation and improved technology. Our ambitious agenda, combined with the support of government, gives us the opportunity maintain and improve our position as global leaders in the wine and spirit trade.”

Earlier this month Miles met Steven Barclay, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, to discuss how the trade can work with government to benefit our industry, jobs, economy and consumers.

The pair discussed the importance of creating opportunities to benefit UK exporters, importers and ultimately UK consumers.

The WSTA believes that most EU rules need to be maintained to protect consumers and confidence in brands.

However, there are some unnecessarily burdensome EU rules that are applied to wines and spirits that can be dropped to increase trade and consumer choice.

The WSTA is currently working with members around definitions of flavoured gin and low and no alcohol products, as well as looking at wine production rules.

Maintaining the Excise Movement Control System (EMCS) to minimise disruption at ports continues to be a priority ’ask’ for the WSTA, but it believes government can go further using the latest technology to make trading even easier.

At the moment EMCS tracks movements of alcohol to and from the EU electronically, meaning minimal checks are required, away from borders.

The WSTA wants to keep the electronic trading system in the short term but in the future believes it can be extended in scope to include all imports and exports from the point of production through to retail.

At the end of last year, the WSTA secured a victory when Boris Johnson’s government upheld a promise to suspend burdensome VI-1 import certification for wine from the EU.

Not only would it have been a nightmare for the UK wine industry it would also have added 10p to the price of a bottle of wine and massively restricted consumer choice.