Uncertainty over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations prompted the WSTA to organise a comprehensive seminar for its Members to plan for different scenarios with experts on hand to advise.
The workshop aims to prepare WSTA members for Brexit and to highlight opportunities and openings they might encounter.
Defra minister, George Eustice, agreed to speak at the event to shed some light on government hopes to achieve for the wine and spirit trade.
Food and Drink Minister George Eustice said:
“The UK’s wine and spirit industry is a true success story which continues to grow and thrive and the Government is committed to making sure this remains the case post-Brexit.
“Last week’s Budget demonstrated this by freezing the duty on wine and spirits and, as we leave the EU, we will continue our efforts to strengthen the competitiveness and resilience of this vital industry.”
The workshop set out a series of industry must haves which the WSTA are calling on government to secure.
- Maintaining trade flows – protecting the UK wine and spirit trade with the EU which is worth almost £4.5 billion
- Early agreement with the EU on a transition period
- Joining the World Wine Trade Group
- Make Gin the next Scotch Whisky success story through promotion and trade
Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:
“The clock is ticking and our members are feeling the pressure. It is essential that wine and spirit businesses have proper plans in place to mitigate risk. Our Brexit working groups proved to be a real hit at the WSTA annual conference earlier this year, but it was clear our members needed more which is why we are dedicating a whole day to it today.
The wine and spirit industry needs to know as soon as possible what Brexit holds in order to plan for the future. We have made it clear to Government and to EU negotiators that no deal would not be an acceptable outcome for our industry, however while our politicians continue to work for a negotiated outcome, businesses also have to prepare for the worst and draw up contingency plans. We want to ensure WSTA members are fully informed and if they are facing a cliff edge we have prepared them with a parachute.”
The WSTA has always made it clear that the continued flow of goods after the UK leaves the EU is vital. In 2016 the UK traded £2.2 billion of spirits with the EU and traded just shy of £2.3 billion in wine.
The UK is by far the largest exporter of spirits in the world and the industry which supports some 283,000 UK jobs, directly and indirectly, can only invest and grow if trade flows are secure.
Britain is the world’s second largest importer of wine by volume and by value and is a significant market for wines produced in the EU, creating some 277,000 UK jobs.
The themes in the workshop are also reflected in the WSTA joint Brexit position paper (insert link) signed by the other major European trade associations.