Industry shows united front at Vinexpo Bordeaux as it discusses how to keep trade flowing after Brexit

Around fifty per cent of all UK wine imports come from the EU

A cliff-edge Brexit would be bad news for UK and for the rest of Europe

Brexit talks are now underway and while the politicians start to thrash out an exit plan the WSTA went to Bordeaux to discuss how to keep the UK at the heart of the world wine trade.

Wine and Spirit Trade Association Chief Executive, Miles Beale, took part in a debate at Vinexpo, on Tuesday, discussing what Brexit means for industry.

He was joined on the panel by Andrew Shaw, group wine buyer for Conviviality, Sean Allison, a New Zealander now producing wine in Bordeaux and, representing the interests of global producers, Jean Marie Barillère President of the EU Wine Trade Group CEEV, President of the Union of Maison de Champagne and vice president of the Comité Champagne.

The UK and EU wine and spirit trade are united in their view that industry cannot rely on politicians to deliver a Brexit that avoids disruption to existing trade and are working together to forge a plan that keeps our historic trade flows intact.

Miles Beale said:

“With Brexit talks now underway the WSTA is engaging directly with European partners on how we keep trading relationships and flows with the rest of the EU intact. As an industry we are all in this together. Any disruption of trade is bad for businesses on both sides of the Channel. It is the joint ambition of the UK and European wine and spirit industry to secure free trade flows and we have agreed to make this clear demand to all our politicians.

“It is very encouraging to see Philip Hammond has heard our views, and those of other industries, and realised the need for a transitional period to allow time to agree and prepare new and equally frictionless customs arrangements. Brexit for Britain means; both meeting our obligations and securing a comprehensive agreement for trade in goods and services.

“We must ensure politicians on both sides are listening to industry and this is best achieved through a united front. Vinexpo Bordeaux provided an excellent platform to discuss the future of our trading landscape. It also showed how much support there is from the European wine industry for a negotiated outcome. It’s not about geography or politics. A successful Brexit is essential for the livelihoods of everyone in our industry.”

The UK is an incredibly important market for European wine producers. France is the UK’s largest wine trading partner by value, worth £1bn in 2015.

99% of all wine drunk in the UK is imported and about half of this comes from Europe. Exports to the UK account for 25% of all EU wine exports.

The most important issue for UK wine businesses and the 277,000 UK jobs that the industry supports, directly and indirectly, is for the UK to remain central to world wine trading post-Brexit.

The UK is by far the largest exporter of spirits in the world and the industry which supports some 296,000 UK jobs, directly and indirectly, can only invest and grow if trade flows are secure.

Around 45% of all UK spirit exports, by volume, go to the EU and 33% by value, worth £1.6bn.

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