The Wine and Spirit Trade Association is calling for Brexit Ministers to let industry lead negotiations to ensure the best possible free trade agreements with the EU and beyond. 

The full WSTA Brexit policy paper can be found here

Up till now Ministers have remained tight lipped over plans for the industry as they devise Britain’s exit from the EU.

 At a meeting with the Secretary for State for Defra, Andrea Leadsom MP, on Wednesday (Nov 30th) Chief Executive Miles Beale presented the WSTA’s Brexit Policy Paper which shows the wine and spirit industry is united, has clear objectives and is uniquely well placed to advise government.

 This included a call for British gin to be given protected status in recognition of its quality and global appeal.

 Gin is the second largest traded UK spirit after whisky with three out of every four bottles of gin imported round the world coming from the UK.

 The meeting was also used to stress the importance of the UK wine industry to the British economy, worth £2.8bn in imported goods and £440m in exports.

 The UK is the largest per capita importer of wine in the world, with France being the UK’s largest wine trading partner by value, worth £1bn in trade in 2015. 

 We import more Champagne into the UK than any other country making us a crucial trading partner for the French.

 While government ponder the detail and politics for the road ahead, the wine and spirit trade is getting down to business.

Because the UK is the world’s leading wine importer and home to the biggest European spirits exporters the WSTA is effectively on both sides of the negotiating table.

 This puts the WSTA in prime position to pave the way for government to seal a good deal with major trading partners in the EU and, eventually, with Third countries too. 

 The WSTA is calling for government to begin by focusing on sector specific industry trade.

 The industry’s detailed Brexit Policy Paper focuses on industry concerns and what needs to be done to keep the UK at the heart of the world’s wine and spirit trade.


The UK spirit trade boasts £28.2bn generated in economic activity and more jobs than any other EU county. And we are the world’s biggest wine trading nation generating a further £17.3bn per annum.

 Meaning the wine and spirit sectors combined are worth over £45bn and support nearly 600,000 jobs directly and indirectly in the UK. 

The WSTA Brexit policy paper - ‘The road ahead for the wine and spirit industry’ – has been drawn up to establish how best to meet and exploit the challenges of leaving the EU.

Some of the asks include:

  • Minimal disruption to existing flows of trade in wines and spirits and exploit Brexit opportunities for enhancing international trade.
  • Government must ensure tariff and quota free access to the EU market.
  • Work with trading partners to develop model agreements with EU and third countries ahead of Article 50.
  • The UK should immediately join the World Wine Trade Group.
  • Keep EU definitions for most spirit drinks and most of the current production rules for wine.
  • Use the Great Repeal Bill to remove restrictions whilst maintaining the integrity of categories and brands.
  • Establish a UK system for existing protected designations of origin (PDO’s) and revise current protection for English wine and sparkling wine as well as a new protection for British gin.
  • Ensure that UK vine growing and wine making continue to be classified as agriculture and allow unrestricted planting of new vineyards.
  • And for any future controls on the movement of people to ensure continued access to a skilled workforce: winemakers, pickers and the hospitality sector.

The WSTA has also set out their top ten target Third country trading partners to help government to secure tariff and quota free access.

 Since voting out of the EU the WSTA team have been out Australia, New Zealand and North America to discuss with international partners how best to exploit Brexit.

 But as important is the need to keep trade flowing with our European partners which is why discussions have already taken place in meetings with trade partners in Brussels and Strasbourg.


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 understand why government want to keep their Brexit cards close to their chest, but as an industry we hold some very valuable cards and can help Ministers to come up trumps on trade. So we are asking we are asking government to let industry lead.

A lot of work is going on behind the scenes 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.

We have the expertise within the WSTA and our membership to pave the way for a smooth Brexit for our world-leading industry. The size and the contribution made by the wine and spirit industry to the UK economy should not be ignored; and its influence with key trading partners should not be underestimated.”


Notes to editors:

The full WSTA Brexit policy paper can be found here

The WSTA is the UK organisation for the wine and spirit industry, representing over 300 companies producing, importing, transporting and selling wine and spirits. The WSTA works with its members to promote responsible production, marketing and sale of alcohol

For more information please contact Lucy Panton:

Tel: +44 (0) 207 0893875

Mobile: + 44 (0) 7776422656

Twitter @wstauk

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