The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has claimed that if Brexit blocks borders, the roads into UK ports could become a lorry park and alcohol smuggling would increase.
WSTA today warned government that if Brexit talks don’t achieve frictionless borders, 'delays and gridlocks' at ports will bring customs to a standstill and transform key ports and surrounding roads into lorry parks.
The traders association also laid out fears that the resurgence of alcohol smuggling would be encouraged by delays and blockages.
Importance Of The Wine Trade To The UK
The UK wine trade is worth £17.3 billion in economic activity. The UK imports 1.8 billion bottles of wine into Britain - 55% of which come from the EU.
The majority of wine imports arrive by boat and are transferred to lorries to be distributed across the country.
On average, Dover alone handles 290 lorries per hour, which works out at one every 12.4 seconds, according to the WSTA figures.
Cause For Concern
WSTA predicts that when the UK leaves the customs union, it would see more than double the volume of cargo that could be subject to inspection at British ports. With British ports operating on the 'just in time' principal, WSTA claims there is no capacity for delays in the system.
“If this isn’t addressed, it will mean misery on the roads for all and will also mean that wine and spirits will not get onto the shelves. If this happens it is not unrealistic to expect an influx of bootleggers looking to find more efficient ways of getting alcohol into the UK”, warned chief executive of WSTA, Miles Beale.
MP for Hammersmith, Andy Slaughter, also voiced his concerns, “Without frictionless trade we could see industry grinding to a halt and some of the 270,000 people employed by the UK wine industry could find themselves out of a job.”
The wine and spirit industry are calling for clarity from government as to whether there will be new customs checks and if they would take place in the UK or at EU ports.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Gavin Ryan. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine