WSTA calls for interim arrangements for spirits post-Brexit

10th July, 2017 by Melita Kiely

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has met with secretary of state Michael Gove to call for interim arrangements for spirits following the UK’s formal departure from the European Union (EU).

WSTA Michael Gove

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale attended a roundtable with secretary of state Michael Gove

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, attended a roundtable discussion hosted by Defra’s Food and Drink last Monday, which was also attended by Gove.

During the meeting, Beale stressed the importance of “free flows of trade” post-Brexit, and shared ideas on what the UK drinks industry needs to maintain its “number one global position” and continue to grow.

According to figures from the WSTA, the UK is the largest exporter of spirits in the world, supporting 296,000 UK jobs, and “can only invest and grow if trade flows are secure”.

More than one billon litres of UK spirits are exported each year, including more than 200m bottles of gin – with three out of every four bottles of gin imported around the world produced in the UK. Last year, UK gin exports hit almost half-a-billion pounds.

Beale said: “As a follow up to the meeting I have also written a letter to Mr Gove spelling out what government needs to do to protect the UK’s status as the number one global hub for wine imports and the world’s biggest exporter of spirits.

“The UK drinks industry is incredibly important to the economy and we need to ensure government is listening to ensure we maintain free flows of trade now Brexit negotiations are under way.”

Beale also wrote a letter to Gove to further stress the points highlighted during the roundtable. He wrote: “There’s an unequivocal economic argument that is in everyone’s interest – EU producers and UK exporters alike – to avoid disruption to historic trade flows.

“Given the volume of goods going to and from the EU, our overriding priority must be to conclude an FTA [Free Trade Agreement] with the EU first… We would strongly support the use of interim arrangements following the UK’s formal exit… allowing trade to continue unhindered while FTA negotiations conclude.”

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