WSTA expresses ‘real concern’ over Brexit

23rd March, 2016 by Amy Hopkins

Trade body the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has officially endorsed the UK’s membership in the European Union ahead of this year’s referendum.

90% of WSTA members have voiced their opposition to Brexit

90% of WSTA members have voiced their opposition to Brexit

The WSTA claims that 90% of its members who responded to an internal consultation believe the UK’s wine and spirits industries will be “stronger” if the nation remains part of the European Union.

As part of the consultation the WSTA asked its 300 members to fill out a questionnaire in a bid to understand their views, including the benefits of remaining and their key concerns about a so-called ‘Brexit’.

The survey showed that only 2% of WSTA members were in favour of the UK leaving the EU, while 8% were undecided. The majority of respondents expressed concern that a Brexit could create an uncertain trading environment, enforce UK exporters to comply with trading conditions they have played no part in shaping, and restrict access to the common market.

Members also expressed concerns over losing the benefit of the EU’s free trade agreements with third countries. According to WSTA figures, Britain’s wine and spirits industry made £1.8 billion in EU exports for the UK economy last year.

“While all views were represented in our membership the vast majority is clear that the industry will better be able to invest, grow and create jobs if the UK remains in the single market,” said Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA.

“The industry needs a powerful UK voice within the EU to ensure that we can shape and influence regulations that will impact on the trade and its access to the EU’s 500m consumers.

“It is clear that the UK spirit sector’s strong exports performance and our place at the centre of the international wine industry is hugely positive for the UK and its consumers. There is real concern that this would be put at risk as a result of the UK exiting the EU.”

A number of SME members of the WSTA are set to meet with Environment Secretary Liz Truss MP to discuss how important access to the EU is for their businesses.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been embarking on a campaign to rally support for the UK’s EU membership. “Britain will be stronger, safer and better off in a reformed Europe than out on our own, because we will have full participation in the free trade area, bringing in jobs, investment, lower prices and financial security,” he said. “That means real certainty so you can plan the future.

“On the other hand those who want to leave Europe can’t tell you if British businesses would be able to access Europe’s free trade area; or if your job is safe, how much your prices would rise, how much your mortgage would be at risk, or if the funding for your local school or hospital is secure. They are offering you risk at a time of uncertainty. It is a leap in the dark.”

Earlier this year, the CEOs of Diageo and Chivas Brothers joined other business leaders in signing an open letter calling for the UK to remain part of the European Union.

The referendum on the UK’s membership in the European Union will be held on 23 June 2016.

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