The WSTA shares Brexit update

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has outlined a number of ‘asks’ it thinks the UK government “can and should” commit to, as it continues to negotiate Brexit trade deals.

Firstly, the WSTA said the UK needs an implementation period from January 1, 2021 and secondly it is asking the Government to not introduce VI-1s; instead it should suspend arrangements pending a review of the need for import certification. It also suggests the UK should join the World Wine Trade Group.

As an additional ask, the WSTA has requested the government commits to diverging from the existing EU rules for a number of products such as flavoured gin and low and no alcohol. Alongside this, it has launched its Trade 21 website hub. 

The WSET’s Director of Policy, Simon Stannard, said: “Joining the WWTG is something we think would send a good signal to the rest of the world and it shows that we are prepared to behave differently.”

He added: “We would also like the government to commit to diverging from EU rules. We feel the rules have worked well over the years, but they are also quite slow to respond. Meanwhile we feel there is a need to include definitive terms for drinks not covered in that, such as flavoured gin and low and no alcohol. We could develop our own rules about those.”

Miles Beale, chief executive, said: “If the government could take actions in the way we suggest it would send a signal and would also be politically attractive, but we need our members to engage and so we are calling on them to ask their MPs the same questions that we are asking. We can send these out to members and within this there is also the opportunity for our members to tailor them for their own businesses when they go to their MPs.

“We need to make as much noise as we can so we can create impact and get the results we want.”

Rebekah Kendrick, head of Brexit and EU Affairs, noted there could be tariffs on EU wines coming in and although this won’t be the case for spirits there could be tariffs on equipment or bottles.

She said: “We will be trying to make sure there are no tariffs on those and we are asking government to clarify that.

“There are different rules for wines and for spirits and we have produced new briefings for these on our trade hub.”

She also noted that the 21-day grace period for labels is no longer confirmed and so the WSTA is telling members they have to assume they have to change their labels from January 1, 2021.

The situation for organic wines and spirits is also a complicated one, she noted.

She said: “At the moment organic certification bodies are not currently recognised by the EU. The Soil Association has submitted an application to gain recognition, so we are awaiting to hear about this.

“Defra is to consult on a new domestics organics regime but we have no details on this yet.”

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