Wine and spirits trade bodies unite on Brexit

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has joined up with trade bodies from across Europe to create a “groundbreaking” Brexit position paper.

Partnering with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), spiritsEUROPE and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins – the WSTA believes it is up to industry to nail down key issues long before the Article 50 deadline.

The joint paper sets out the European industry’s shared Brexit requests and maps out how to overcome issues affecting the industry.

“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,” said WSTA chief executive Miles Beale.

“We have been calling for transitional arrangements to give us as much time as possible to adapt to Brexit, with the aim of securing an agreement between the EU and UK that ensures frictionless trade, preserves fair competition and maintains consumers’ confidence in our products.

“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.

The wine and spirit sectors depend on the freedom of movement of goods, and benefit from the freedom of movement of people and capital within the EU.

The industry has united to urge the EU and UK to reach a settlement that preserves trade flows and avoids border tariffs and related administration costs.

The paper also seeks to preserve the convergence of legislation found in both the EU and UK markets, outlining 46 spirit categories, including whisky and vodka, and 240 registered GIs that offer protection to Cognac, Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey.

The UK 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.

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

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