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WSTA proposes industry to lead on model free-trade agreements at its Annual Conference


A YouGov survey reveals 87% of people who expressed a view want to see free trade deals with non-EU countries

British spirit exports to Australia and New Zealand have more than doubled in 5 years

¾ of New Zealand wine exports and 2/3 of Australian wine exports to the EU come to the UK first.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has begun talks with Australian and New Zealand counterparts about model to ensure the best deal for consumers and the industry.

In the opening speech at the WSTA Annual Conference today (Tuesday 13th Sept) CEO Miles Beale will announce that work has already started on model trade agreements for wines and spirits that could become global blueprints to be rolled out post Brexit.

He said: “It’s not just the WSTA who want to see the development of model wine and spirit agreements. I was in Australia and New Zealand last month and there was warm and broad-based support for us to work with their industry bodies and government to develop model agreements.Trade in wines and spirits is mutually beneficial and all negotiators must and should recognise this. We have no intention of idly waiting around for Brexit to happen we have to take action now. We hope the UK government will welcome our initiative.”

Theresa May announced last month that she is preparing the ground for free trade deals with Australia and other non-EU countries.

The bilateral free trade agreement is backed by Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who said he was keen to see free trade arrangements with the UK “as soon as possible”.

Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo last week indicated that costs could fall after the UK leaves the EU if a free trade agreement between the two countries is put in place.

WSTA Chief Executive Miles Beale used a business trip to Australia and New Zealand as opportunity to propose sector-specific arrangements – either as standalone agreements, or as part of broader trade deals, at the same time taking steps to ensure the UK remains the beating heart of global drinks industry.

The UK is the largest importer and consumer of Australian and New Zealand wines and a crucial hub to re-export their wines to the EU and beyond.

Of all the Australian wine which ends up in the EU 69% by volume and 66% by value comes to the UK first.

For all New Zealand wine exported to the EU 76% by volume and 77% value arrives in the UK first.

Additionally the UK spirits exports to our antipodean cousins in 2015 were worth £140 million, a figure which has more than doubled since 2010.

Any unnecessary barriers to this trade would see all sides taking a substantial hit to their economies.

The latest yearly sales show £1.5 billion worth of Australian wine was sold in the UK, up 3%. And one in five bottles of wine sold in the UK is Australian.

New Zealand is the only origin seeing double digit percentage growth consistently, with yearly sales of over half a billion pounds in the UK, up 17%.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the WSTA, met trade associations, businesses and government officials to discuss how best to keep the flow of wine and spirits between the countries uninhibited and tariff free.

He said:  “It is essential we maintain our pole position in the global drinks market. The UK has a hugely successful wine and spirit industry and is perhaps the key hub for international trade.

“And while the UK cannot formally negotiate with the New Zealand and Australian governments yet, the industry can prepare most of the ground in advance. That is precisely what the WSTA intends doing.

“Wine from countries like Australia and New Zealand arrives in bulk into the UK where it is bottled, with some being re-exported, creating thousands of jobs for Brits.

“The wine and spirit industry is a huge contributor to our economy, worth £21.1bn annually and the concern is that leaving the EU could lead to businesses looking to relocate.

“Theresa May and her Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull have both shown their support for pioneering free trade deals between our two countries. Wines and spirits could and should be at the forefront of the deal.

“It is important that we act on this as soon as possible to help government make it a reality for our industry.

“While it will take time to work out our future with the EU countries what we cannot let slide is the opportunity we have to strengthen our relationships with those not tied to the EU.

“At the same time it is crucial that Australia and New Zealand continue to benefit from the same access to the EU market through the UK that they now receive.”

Following polling carried out by YouGov for the WSTA’s Market Report, published today, of those who were certain of what they wanted out of a trade deal, 86% said they want a free trade deal with the EU and 87% said they wanted a free trade deal with non-EU countries. With the exception of UKIP voters the polling showed that this has resounding cross-party support. Both genders support free trade, as do all ages, regions and social grades.

The UK wine and spirits industry directly and indirectly supports around 600,000 jobs and generates £21.1bn in sales.

Britain proudly holds the title of the second largest wine trader in volume, behind Germany, and by value, behind the USA.

For all these reasons the WSTA is taking every opportunity to ensure that Australia and New Zealand have improved trading conditions with the UK and the same access to EU markets. 


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