UK government agrees to hold off on wine import laws

The UK government has reaffirmed that it will suspend new import certifications for wine for up to nine months after Brexit, saving the industry millions.

The UK’s departure from the European Union brought with it the prospect of new importing certifications known as VI-1 forms if no were reached.

As many as 600,000 would have to be filed which would swamp civil servants with work and leave many businesses unable to operate until their form was processed.

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) warned that it could cost the industry as much as £70 million a year in lost revenue, raise the price of wine and potentially exclude many smaller producers from the UK market.

Earlier this year the trade body lobbied successfully for the Theresa May government to exclude the wine trade from having to comply with the additional certification for a period of nine months post-Brexit, during which time a more efficient system might be created.

Last month it appeared as though the government under Boris Johnson was preparing to go back on this agreement but the WSTA said this morning (21 October) that it had secured confirmation that the government will stick with its original promise.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “The Government’s actions are a victory for common sense and will be met with a sense of relief by the UK wine industry as the threat of a £70 million bill has been removed. As we made clear in our lengthy discussions with Government officials, the additional form filling and laboratory tests needed had paperwork requirements not been suspended would have added a massive burden on businesses and consumers alike.

“We are delighted that the Government has listened to the WSTA and demonstrated that they value the UK wine industry. However, they can and must go further. In the upcoming Budget on the 6th of November they should listen to the WSTA and some 33 million Brits who drink wine and cut wine duty by 2%. This would be the first Government to cut still wine tax since Nigel Lawson was Chancellor in 1984.”

The WSTA also called on the government to use this nine month window to, “reform import certification for all wine, not just from the EU, to reduce red tape by modernising and simplifying the current system.”

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