WSTA reiterates priorities for spirits post-Brexit

7th May, 2020 by Melita Kiely

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has written to the UK government highlighting its key priorities to ensure the best possible outcome for the industry at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.

Brexit big story

The UK’s Brexit transition period is due to end on 31 December 2020

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, has written to Cabinet Officer minister Michael Gove MP outlining a number of priorities, including introducing a two-year implementation period for labelling changes from 1 January 2021.

In addition, the WSTA has asked the government to commit to removing “unnecessary regulation”, which “stifles innovation”. An example given by the WSTA was the establishment of new rules for the definition of flavoured gin and the use of terms such as ‘lower, low and no-alcohol’.

The WSTA has also asked the government to show the UK is serious about international trade by committing to the World Wine Trade Group.

The letter has been accompanied by the launch of the new Trade 21 initiative. The website hub hosted a webinar yesterday (6 May) – watched by more than 70 viewers – which outlined the trade body’s vision for the UK’s wine and spirits industry.

The WSTA said the goal was to ensure there would be minimum disruption to trade, including zero import tariffs or quota restrictions, and that new checks and balances would be “fit for purpose”.

Beale said: “While we stand fully behind the government’s aim of securing a comprehensive future partnership agreement with the EU, many of the outcomes we are proposing are not dependent on securing a deal – nor would there be any loss of negotiating capital if the government were to support UK businesses now in the ways we suggest.

“Our asks are therefore an easy win and would allow us to secure a better future, which keeps the UK as the global hub for the wine and spirit trade. By committing to act now, the government would provide a welcome boost to the sector in these unprecedented and uncertain times.

“The wine and spirit industry is in a good position to take advantage of the new opportunities leaving the EU presents, but if government doesn’t deliver it will be venturing into a new trading landscape with its hands tied behind its back.”

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