The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has today voiced fresh calls to Government to finalise a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU to avoid a no deal scenario.
Following the release of an EU Commission paper for businesses on how to prepare for a hard Brexit, and confirmation that Government will release 70 similar technical notes in the Summer, the trade body reiterated that it has long been giving its members advice on how to prepare for a no deal scenario, and that the Government’s advice is long overdue.
Now, it states, is the time for the Government to shift all its focus to getting agreement on the Withdrawal Agreement as there is too little time to agree all elements on the future relationship.
Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, comments:
“The WSTA welcomes the EU Commission’s communication to help business prepare for a no deal Brexit. We have for some time now been working with wine and spirits companies to both identify risks ahead of the possibility of a no deal scenario, and to consider what action companies might take to mitigate those risks.
“It’s a positive step the Government is taking in their commitment to providing advice through 70 technical notes over the summer, but once again they have been shown to be way behind the curve and this is another example of “too little, too late”. The clock is still ticking if the Withdrawal Agreement is to be signed off at October’s European Summit, less than three months away.
“While we acknowledge the importance of contingency planning, The Government must not lose sight of the most important objective – to secure a negotiated outcome from Brexit talks, including a transition period that gives businesses time to adjust to the new landscape.
“It’s encouraging that the new Secretary of State has committed to securing political agreement on the future relationship. However, as the EU has long stated, it cannot agree terms of the future relationship until Britain leaves the bloc – it is clear that the Government should be placing all its emphasis on agreeing the backstop solution for Ireland as a matter of priority to avoid a no deal scenario.
“The WSTA has been clear from the start and, as highlighted by the IMF today in its report into the damage a hard Brexit will cause, no deal would be bad for both business and consumers.”