Report warns VI-1 forms will cause ‘chaos’ for industry
A committee of MPs has compiled a report detailing the “chaos” that will afflict the UK wine industry and the price hikes facing consumers if government proposed red tape is introduced next year.
The co-chair of an All-Parliamentary Group warned that he introduction of wine import certificates next year would, “contradict the government’s claim of opening up the country to world trade and would hit consumers and our economy.”
The government currently has plans to introduce wine import certificates – known as ‘Vl-1’ forms – and lab tests for all wine imported from the European Union from 1 January next year.
The industry has warned that this time-consuming and expensive bureaucracy could cost businesses £70 million a year and will certainly cause some to close, leading to job losses and huge losses to the Treasury in tax revenue as a result.
There will also be a widespread reduction in ranges and choice available to customers who will have to foot the bill for rising costs at the same time.
Whitehall has already been warned that it will be swamped with paperwork should the Vl-1 forms be implemented with 600,000+ forms set to be produced.
Nonetheless, said the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s chief executive, Miles Beale, Defra Ministers were “stubbornly ploughing ahead with the introduction of costly VI-1 certification for EU wines. It’s madness!”
The All-Parliamentary Group for Wine and Spirits looking into this matter has published its findings today (22 September), in the same week as an amendment was suggested by Lord Holmes of Richmond to the Agriculture Bill, calling for the introduction of an electronic alternative instead.
He said: “My amendment not only seeks to highlight the potential damage the introduction of VI-1 forms would cause to the UK wine industry, but also help show the major opportunity we have to revolutionise the way the UK wine industry operates outside the EU, boosting our technology business’ and put the UK at the forefront of innovation in moving goods.”
Neil Coyle MP, co-chair of the group, added: “Wine import certificates were designed by the European Union to make importing wine from outside the EU more difficult. The UK is the second largest importer of wine, by volume and by value, in the world. About 99% of wine consumed in the UK is imported and it makes no sense for the UK Government to retain or extend these costs.”
His fellow co-chair, Helen Grant MP, said: “The United Kingdom is an important world wine hub with generations of experience, the largest bottling warehouse in Europe, and hosting a world leading fine wine trade. I hope officials will consider our recommendations and remove barriers to trade, incorporate new technology and reduce bureaucracy.”
The WSTA’s Miles Beale concluded: “The APPG report on VI-1s lays bare the disastrous impact these costly and unnecessary tests and paperwork will have on British business and the UK’s 33 million wine consumers.
More than half our wine comes from Europe. Instead of choosing to suspend and reduce red tape and costs for wine, Ministers have elected to apply additional burden and some £100m in costs for UK businesses and consumers. And with no idea where the lab testing capacity will come from.
“Deal or no deal – it is within Government’s gift to reverse this decision. It is baffling why the politicians seem hell bent on pushing up prices for British consumers and punishing British business.”