WSTA responds to May’s ‘hard Brexit’ speech

19th January, 2017 by Amy Hopkins

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has reiterated its wish for “uninterrupted trade with the EU” following Theresa May’s announcement that the UK will leave the single market.

Despite Theresa May’s confirmation of a ‘hard Brexit’, the WSTA hopes for the “best possible” trade deals with the EU

On Tuesday (17 January), prime minister May delivered her long-awaited speech outlining the UK Government’s plans for a ‘hard Brexit’, meaning the UK will not accept the free movement of goods, capital, services and people attached to the European Union’s single market.

However, May, who backed the Remain camp in the run-up to the referendum, called for a “new and equal partnership” with the EU and promised to pursue the “freest possible trade”.

“[I] want to be clear: what I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market,” emphasied May. “It would, to all intents and purposes, mean not leaving the EU at all. That is why both sides in the referendum campaign made it clear that a vote to leave the EU would be a vote to leave the single market.”

Following the speech, Miles Beale, chief executive of trade body the WSTA, said: “We hope the government succeeds in negotiating the best possible deals for uninterrupted trade with the EU upon leaving the single market; and welcome the aim to achieve tariff free access.

“We also wish to see the government achieve the best possible platform for bilateral trade deals with priority countries, including government recognising the value of industry preparing the ground in advance – as the WSTA has already started to do.”

In September this year, the WSTA said it had created prospective model trade agreements for wine and spirits that could “become global blueprints” to be rolled out after the UK exits the EU.

“The size and the contribution made by the wine and spirit industry – which is worth some £50bn per annum to the UK economy – should not be ignored; and its influence with key trading partners should not be underestimated,” added Beale.

“The UK is a key hub for international wine trade, it is the second largest wine importer by volume (behind Germany) and by value (behind USA), cementing its role as a key international player.

“The UK is also by far the largest exporter of spirits in the world and we hope to see these mutually beneficial flows of trade continue.”

Theresa May plans to trigger Article 50 in March this year, after which the UK will have two years to exit the European Union.

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