WSTA Calls For Government To Get A Grip And Produce A Clear Plan To Prevent Brexit Chaos

The Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association has warned that ministers need to set aside differences and produce a clear plan for Brexit or trade will suffer.

WSTA CEO, Miles Beale, revealed “deep seated” concerns from the drinks industry about their chaotic approach to Brexit and called on them to liais

e with EU Counterparts immediately after the summer.

He urged Government to “get a grip” and provide businesses with an agreed, clear, carefully thought through policy for the UK’s trading future.

The trade association, that represents over 300 companies, believes a transitional period is key, to avoid disruption to historic trade flows.WSTA Calls For Government To Get A Grip And Produce A Clear Plan To Prevent Brexit Chaos

WSTA Chief Executive, Miles Beale, said:

“The wine and spirit industry has had enough of political posturing and Cabinet rifts which have led to a flurry of mixed messages over what we should expect from the Government approach to Brexit. Put bluntly we want Government to get a grip and put to rest some of the deep seated concerns facing our trade – by telling us clearly what they are going to ask for when negotiations get serious in the Autumn.

“The WSTA has argued continually for a negotiated deal including a transition period that would allow the UK to agree a Free Trade Agreement with the EU. Then the Government needs to make quick progress on other bilateral FTAs with our major trading partners. Such a transition would give businesses time to prepare fully for a post-EU trading environment.

“We have been encouraged by some recent comments made by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, but just when you think there is a plan in place another minster comes in and contradicts it. It is simply not good enough for business needing to plan for their future and that of their employees. It has been over a year since the referendum and over four months since Article 50 was triggered. We have had nothing solid from Government since the White Paper and no coherent message about our trading future. Our industry needs to feel confident that there is an agreed, carefully thought through, plan for trade before we leave the EU. Without it businesses are just bystanders – increasingly frustrated ones at that.

“We want to see the Government getting a grip, forming a plan, communicating clearly and taking it to the EU to get a deal that works for everyone”.

Last month Miles and others from the food and drink sector relayed their concerns to the new Secretary of State for Defra, Michael Gove, at a roundtable.

Miles followed up with a letter spelling out what the wine and spirit industry needs to keep its status as a key hub for the global drinks market.

The WSTA represents an industry worth around £50 billion to the UK and supports over half a million jobs in the UK.

The UK is an incredibly important market for the world’s wine producers. Over 99% of wine consumed in the UK is imported and in 2016 total sales amounted to more than £10bn.

The most important issue for UK wine businesses, and the 277,000 UK jobs that the industry supports, directly and indirectly, is for the UK to remain central to world wine trading post-Brexit.

Britain is by far the largest exporter of spirits in the world and the industry which supports some 296,000 UK jobs, directly and indirectly, can only invest and grow if trade flows are secure.

Over 1bn litres of UK spirits are exported to foreign markets, including more than 200m bottles of gin. Three out of every four bottles of gin imported around the world are made in the UK