Drinks organisations take Brexit trade deal into their own hands

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

What it's worth: our current relationship is valued in billions
What it's worth: our current relationship is valued in billions

Related tags: International trade

Frustration at the lack of progress about a future trade relationship between the UK and European Union once Brexit occurs has led the Wine & Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) to take action.

The WSTA along with the Scotch Whisky Association, SpiritsEurope and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vin (CEEV) have come together to ensure the continued flow of alcohol to and from Continental Europe remains easy and consistent.

In a joint effort, the partnership has compiled what it has called a “ground breaking” Brexit position paper to safeguard drinks businesses on both sides of the English Channel.

All parties have criticised government officials for not moving quick enough on the issue and for continuing to “lock horns” over Brexit.

Need for EU27

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “The WSTA is unique in its representation of both wine and spirit businesses. Both the European Council and the British prime minister have emphasised the need for the EU27 and UK to remain close partners in the future.

“There is little sign of any progress being made to ensure this happens which has led the WSTA and trade bodies throughout Europe to take the bull by the horns and publish a position paper to protect our shared wine and spirits industry.”

Beale reiterated calls for transitional arrangements to be made so all drinks business could adapt to Brexit and secure frictionless trade deals.

“We, like our partners in the wine and spirit trade across Europe, strongly support the UK and EU securing a comprehensive trade agreement that enables us to continue to do business and provide our products to consumers across the Continent,” he added.

Unlike politicians, the trade bodies had demonstrated positive integration and collaboration, which has resulted in the joint paper, believed to be the first of its kind.

‘United position’

Beale said: “The paper makes clear that it is the united position of wine and spirit producers across Europe that a no deal is an unacceptable outcome from negotiations.”

Wine and spirits traded between the EU and UK are not currently subject to tariffs and unless the UK remains in the Customs Union post Brexit or a Free Trade Agreement is negotiated, the tariff-free environment would change.

CEEV president Jean-Marie Barrière said: “We produce high-quality products – including PDO/PDI wines and GI spirit drinks – that support hundreds of thousands of jobs, investment, and significant bilateral trade between the EU27 and the UK.”

SpiritsEurope president Joep Stassen said: “The continued success of our sector relies on the agreement of a framework for the future relationship; and the transitional rules that would ensure trade continues with minimum disruption after the UK’s exit from the EU.”

Related topics: Wine

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