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European wine and spirit trade unite to go head to head with Barnier’s Brexit Taskforce

General | 06 February, 2018

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has called on government trade negotiators to remove all existing tariffs to allow the UK to enhance trade with Australia and New Zealand when the UK leaves the EU.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association yesterday (Thursday) met the EU Commission’s top Brexit negotiating team in a bid to move trade discussions forward.

Trade Association representatives from both sides of the Channel sat down with Michael Barnier’s taskforce to explain why it’s in everyone’s interest to keep the trade of wine and spirits flowing after Brexit.

Last year the WSTA teamed up with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), spiritsEUROPE and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins – to nail down key issues long before the Artticle 50 deadline expires and calling on politicians on both sides to do the same.

The result was a ground-breaking Brexit position paper agreed by all parties, in October, on how best to move forward with trade when Britain leaves the EU.

The same top team of trade representatives gathered at the Commission’s iconic Berlaymont building at the heart of the Brussels EU district to drive home the messages in the joint paper. In particular they focused on the importance of reaching a negotiated settlement – with a sensible implementation period and ground breaking new free trade deal.

Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, Miles Beale, said:

“The Brexit position paper makes clear that partners in the wine and spirit trade right across Europe strongly support the UK and EU securing a comprehensive trade agreement. All of us want a solution that enables us to continue to do business after Brexit and to ensure UK and EU consumers will be able to continue to enjoy the full range of products.

The next step is to bring the politicians onboard and that is what the meeting with the Brexit taskforce aims to achieve. Time is running out and the economic importance to businesses on both sides of the channel to get this right cannot be over emphasised.

We welcome this week’s agreement to revise the negotiating guidelines and in particular to define the terms of transition to bridge the period from March 2019 until our new trading rela-tionship is agreed. And, we fully support, only one change of rules at the end of the process. The WSTA has, from the outset, been calling for a transition period. Frankly we need politi-cians to deliver continuity for our industry, and not to indulge in politicking that risks delay or damage to our industry and its businesses – on whichever side of the Channel they reside.”

According to a document titled EU Exit Analysis, leaked this week, growth is expected to be lower in each of the three different outcomes than if the UK had stayed in the EU.

Miles Beale added:

“The contents of the leaked document, which suggest that every part of the UK economy would suffer, reinforces the urgent need for trade associations to secure future trade – and provide business with certainty as soon as possible.”

The wine and spirit sectors currently depend on the freedom of movement of goods, and benefit from the freedom of movement of people and capital within the EU. These benefits are currently extended to the UK as a result of EU membership, and ensure smooth transit of goods across the EU-28.

The wine and spirits industry has come together to urge the EU and UK to reach a negotiated settlement that preserves trade flows and avoid border tariffs and related administration costs.

The group made clear that it is the united position of wine and spirit producers across Europe that no deal is an unacceptable outcome from negotiations.

The UK is the world’s second largest importer of wine by both volume and by value and is a significant market for wines produced in the EU, whilst the EU represents a significant export market for British spirits.

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 would change post-Brexit. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association yesterday (Thursday) met the EU Commission’s top Brexit negotiating team in a bid to move trade discussions forward.

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