Brexit: Politicians 'cannot deliver for wine and spirit trade'

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Negotiations begin: WSTA wants to keep trade free flowing
Negotiations begin: WSTA wants to keep trade free flowing
The UK and EU wine and spirit trade does not believe it can rely on politicians to deliver a Brexit that avoids disruption for the industry.

That was the message during a debate at Vinexpo Bordeaux exhibition in France earlier this week. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said it was working together to forge a plan that keeps trade flows intact and fights disruption.  

“With Brexit talks now under way, the WSTA is engaging directly with European partners on how we keep trading relationships and flows with the rest of the EU intact. As an industry, we are all in this together,” said WSTA chief executive Miles Beale, who spoke during the debate. 

“Any disruption of trade is bad for businesses on both sides of the Channel. It is the joint ambition of the UK and European wine and spirit industry to secure free trade flows and we have agreed to make this clear demand to all our politicians.”

He said it was encouraging to see Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond admit that there was a need for a transitional period to allow time to agree and prepare customs arrangements. 

“We must ensure politicians on both sides are listening to industry and this is best achieved through a united front,” Beale added.

According to the WSTA, the UK is an important market for European wine producers. France is the UK’s largest wine trading partner by value, worth £1bn in 2015 while 99% of all wine drunk in the UK is imported and about half of this comes from Europe. Exports to the UK account for 25% of all EU wine exports.

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

The WSTA claims the UK is largest exporter of spirits in the world and the industry supports some 296,000 UK jobs. Around 45% of all UK spirit exports, by volume, go to the EU and 33% by value, worth £1.6bn.

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