WSTA calls for Brexit clarity as UK wine exports grow

The WSTA has called for greater clarity on export agreements with key trading partners post-Brexit as the value of UK wine exports grow by 21%.

It comes in response to figures released by HMRC last week showed a 21% increase in the value of UK wine exports between January and July, with volumes rising 15%.

Wine is now the UK’s sixth highest food and drink export, underlining the country’s importance as a global wine hub, as much of the wines is imported from its country of origin and shipped to the EU, the Far East and beyond, the WSTA said.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said the figures showed the importance of ensuring the UK gets “the right deal” as it leaves the EU, as a key export product for the UK that provides a significant contribution to British food and drink exports.  UK wine exports to the EU were worth £189m in 2016 alone, according to WSTA figure, and are likely to increase further in value on the back of the positive growth in the first six months.

Beale pointed out that currently the UK exports more wine than beef or pork, and at current trends was set to overtake chocolate before long.

The trade body has already called for a deal that allows trade to continue uninterrupted, arguing that wine trade agreements that the EU already enjoys with the USA and Australia can be “preserved and transferred to work for the UK post-Brexit.”

“The release of a customs paper last week, detailing the Government’s intent to pursue an interim agreement whilst continuing negotiations with the EU over a free trade deal, is sensible,” Beale said. “Uninterrupted trade with the EU is essential if we want to protect and increase our wine exports. It’s also sensible for EU wine makers exporting to non-EU markets via the UK, of course.”

“Our industry also needs urgent clarity over the UK’s continued access to terms agreed under existing EU trade deals and wine agreements with third countries after March 2019 – particularly wine agreements with Australia and the USA, two key wine markets for the UK, as well as continuing to pursue a fast and comprehensive trade deal with the EU.”

“The sooner businesses have this sort of clarity the easier a transition to a post-EU trading environment will be – when there also needs to be new bilateral trade deals of which British drinks can take advantage.”

Whisky was the UK’s largest food and drink export, accounting for around 41% of the food and drink export market, the figures revealed, growing £64.1 million, to £1,8195 million in the year,up 3.7% despite volume sales falling by 1%. Beer, the UK’s third most valuable export, grew 18.4% to £313.3 million, although again export volumes were down 2.2%, it said.

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