WSTA urges UK government to ‘get a grip’ over Brexit

3rd August, 2017 by Annie Hayes

The government must mitigate the drinks industry’s “deep seated” Brexit concerns and provide a “carefully thought through” policy for the UK’s trading future, the CEO of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has said.

The WSTA has called on the government to provide a “carefully thought through” policy for the UK’s trading future

Ministers need to provide businesses with a clear plan for Brexit, Miles Beale warned, adding that the current approach is “simply not good enough”.

“The wine and spirit industry has had enough of political posturing and Cabinet rifts which have led to a flurry of mixed messages over what we should expect from the government approach to Brexit,” said Beale.

“Put bluntly we want government to get a grip and put to rest some of the deep seated concerns facing our trade – by telling us clearly what they are going to ask for when negotiations get serious in the autumn.”

The trade association believes a transitional period is “key” to avoiding trade disruption, and called on the government to liaise with its European Union (EU) counterparts immediately after the summer.

“The WSTA has argued continually for a negotiated deal including a transition period that would allow the UK to agree a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU,” explained Beale.

“Then the government needs to make quick progress on other bilateral FTAs with our major trading partners. Such a transition would give businesses time to prepare fully for a post-EU trading environment.”

With more than 1 billion litres of UK spirits exported to foreign markets every year, British businesses need to “feel confident” about the outlook for trade as the UK leaves the EU, he added.

“We have been encouraged by some recent comments made by the chancellor, Philip Hammond, but just when you think there is a plan in place another minster comes in and contradicts it,” said Beale. “It is simply not good enough for business needing to plan for their future and that of their employees.

“It has been over a year since the referendum and over four months since Article 50 was triggered. We have had nothing solid from government since the White Paper and no coherent message about our trading future.

“Our industry needs to feel confident that there is an agreed, carefully thought through plan for trade before we leave the EU. Without it businesses are just bystanders – increasingly frustrated ones at that.

“We want to see the government getting a grip, forming a plan, communicating clearly and taking it to the EU to get a deal that works for everyone.”

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