WSTA meets Brexit minister to discuss how to protect trade and prosper

The  Wine and Spirit Trade Association met Brexit minister David Jones last week to discuss how the industry can best protect trade and prosper when the UK leaves the EU.

At the crucial first meeting with the Department for Exiting the EU the WSTA outlined aims and priorities for future trade with the EU and beyond.

This was followed by the WSTA Brexit seminar (Thursday 3rd Nov) where industry came together to agree on what it wants from Brexit and how to achieve it.

The seminar marks the official launch of the WSTA’s Brexit themed working groups focusing on three key areas; International Trade, Exiting the EU and Customs, Logistics and Movement.

At the meeting between WSTA Chief Executive Miles Beale and David Jones, they discussed the issues surrounding Brexit that impact on the industry, including movement of skilled workers, terms of trade and opportunities to increase the sector's competitiveness in future.  

David Jones, Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the EU said:

"The UK's wine and spirit trade makes a significant contribution to the UK economy - employing hundreds of thousands of people - and we are determined that the industry continues to flourish after we leave the EU.

It was great to meet with WSTA to hear their views on the upcoming challenges and opportunities, and this continued business engagement is vital if we are to get the best deal for Britain."

The WSTA also shared with the Brexit minister its latest discussions with members and other international wine and spirit trade bodies and its plans to develop model trade agreements.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said:

For a genuinely global industry like wine and spirits, Brexit will bring both challenges and opportunities.

We want to ensure that industry is on the front foot to help government to prepare the best possible case for uninterrupted trade with the EU, and the best possible platform for bilateral trade deals with priority countries.

The proximity of our meeting with David Jones and our own Brexit seminar means we give our members an informed update on how government thinking is developing and how a key minister sees the next phase unfolding.

We also had the opportunity to remind David Jones of the size and contribution made by the wine and spirit industry, which brings in £45.5bn to the UK economy and provides nearly 600,000 jobs.”

The meeting with David Jones follows discussions with other Brexit departments that have allowed the WSTA to offer its views about the industry’s Brexit priorities.

The UK wine and spirit industry is central to the global drinks trade. For example 75% of all global gin exports by volume are British gin.

The UK is a key hub in the international trade of wine and is the second biggest importer of wine by volume (behind Germany) and value (behind USA) in the world.).

The WSTA will be publishing its detailed Brexit-policy position paper later this month.

WSTA Chairman, Dan Jago, sets out his vision for the industry

The WSTA Annual Conference in September announced that the role of WSTA Chairman would be taken over by Dan Jago CEO of Berry Bros & Rudd.

Last month marked the trade association’s first Executive Board meeting with Jago at the helm where he set out his vision for the industry.

With the EU Referendum vote now over 4 months behind us, the political, economic and social landscape remains very uncertain.

Addressing the board, Dan Jago indicated he would not let this deter him from focusing on his main priority; ensuring that wine and spirit trade continues to flow during the entire Brexit process and into the new trading environment.

Jago also identified his intention to strengthen the WSTA by growing its membership to represent more and more producers, importers, exporters, transporters and sellers. By working with members from all corners the wine and spirit trade, we can unite as an industry to be more effective when facing the challenges ahead.

However the new Chairman did not let leaving Europe dominate his agenda, just as it will not completely overshadow the day-to-day business.

The WSTA are there to help members through every labelling, regulatory, importing, exporting or market query as well as ensuring the voice of the industry was heard within Whitehall and Parliament.

The organisation possesses knowledge and expertise that give them a unique position at the forefront of the industry.

The WSTA will grow and adapt to keep all bases covered and have the board’s full support in providing members the best advice in all areas.

Dan Jago, Chairman of the WSTA Board said:

“Taking the helm as Chairman of the WSTA is both an honour and a challenge, but something I did not agree to lightly.

The reality is that we are now facing one of the toughest eras the wine and spirits trade has ever faced. Brexit is a monumental challenge for the trade, which is already having a potentially damaging impact on the industry.

My focus is to ensure that the WSTA meet these challenges head on and that we are extremely vigilant in looking after the members' trade interests. It is incredibly important that the WSTA is in the best position to help guide Government on how to protect the flow of trade, secure jobs and allow our sector to continue to grow.

Brexit is a reality and we need to maximise every opportunity. I am confident that the WSTA team have the expertise and knowledge to steer the members through these uncharted waters.

It is clear that in this time of uncertainty, standing side-by-side with industry partners to show Government, and the world, we are united in our aims is key. I will be focusing on helping the team grow membership of the WSTA and making the association the lead voice for the alcohol industry.”

Chief Executive of the WSTA, Miles Beale, said:

“The WSTA warmly welcome Dan into the fold. It is incredibly important to us that the person who steers our ship has extensive experience in the wine and spirit trade. Dan’s knowledge of the industry is encyclopaedic and just as importantly he has a great passion for the products which we represent. There are challenging and exciting times ahead and Dan has the drive to ensure we make the most of every opportunity.”

The wine and spirits industry is the toast of the treasury after bringing a boost to British economy

Wine reaches a milestone for the first time hitting the £4bn mark in duty revenues for the Exchequer

In the last 6 months since a freeze in duty spirits have shot up £54m on last year.

The UK wine and spirits industry has brought a boost to treasury coffers, latest published accounts reveal.

Following this September’s takings the 12 month rolling total saw wine duty bringing in a milestone £4.037bn for the first time to the Exchequer.

Spirits also brought a welcome windfall to the Chancellor, hitting £1.48bn for the 6 months to September 2016, up £54m on the same period last year.

In 2015 wine and spirits contributed £15.5bn to the Treasury, enough to fund the cabinet office 6 times over or 4 DEFRAs.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: 

"Evidence shows that freezing or cuts to duty are not only popular, but have led to greater revenue for the Exchequer, more jobs, greater investment by the industry and a better deal for consumers. The industry’s size and contribution to economic activity is regularly vastly underestimated. 

“Through distilleries, vineyards, bottling plants, logistic companies, wholesalers, distributers and retailers it supports nearly 600,000 jobs in the UK, contributes £45.5bn in economic activity and pays over £15.5bn in duty, VAT, corporation and employment taxes.

“The industry has faced difficult trading conditions recently with the fall of the pound and the uncertainty of trade post-Brexit.  Now more than ever the industry asks for government's support to allow the wine and spirit industry to invest, grow exports and create more jobs. And these figures show that reducing the wine and spirit industry’s high duty burden is an effective way to do that.” 

55% of the average bottle of wine in shops and supermarkets is accounted for by tax.

74% of a bottle of spirits in shops and supermarkets is accounted for by tax.

Following the freeze in wine duty in the 2015 budget, wine duty income increased on the previous year by £139m (+3.6%) from April 2015 – March 2016 inclusive.

Following the cut in spirits duty in the 2015 budget, spirits duty income increased on the previous year by £125m (+4.1%) from April 2015 to March 2016 inclusive.


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