UK Seeks To Form Wine And Spirit Trade Partnerships Post-Brexit
The UK government is striving for a deep partnership with the EU post-Brexit with a comprehensive customs agreement, free trade and continued ability to advance negotiations with third countries, according to a Minister of the the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Defra minister for food and drink, George Eustice, assured representatives of the UK Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) that even a hard Brexit would not be a 'disaster' for the industry.
“For business, day one of being outside the EU should feel very similar to the final day of being in the European Union, because the legal system and the laws that we have in place will be the same,” said Eustice, speaking at a week-long Brexit workshop with the WSTA in Westminster.
The minister and MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, delivered a 30 minute address to an audience of wine and spirit producers, importers and logistic companies. He attempted to alleviate fears that if faced with a ‘cliff edge’ Brexit this would not lead to disaster.
Preparing For The Worst
Eustice told the WSTA that the government is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best and wanted to get a free trade agreement to allow them to move forward and provide business with the certainty that it wants.
“Whichever side MPs were on in the referendum we have now got to pull together, rise to the challenge and put the country back together again,” he said.
The minister joined the workshop seminar to answer questions on what government is doing to support trade, following a morning of discussions among representatives of the UK wine and spirit trade on how the industry could best prepare for Brexit.
Members participated in two roundtable discussions with WSTA experts on trade opportunities and contingency planning. Attendees asked for an implementation period to be confirmed as soon as possible and called for the UK to join the World Wine Trade Group, according to the WSTA.
However, Eustice admitted that the government are not taking anything for granted and that they had to be ready and planning for all scenarios.
Uncertainty over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations prompted the WSTA to organise a comprehensive seminar for its members to plan for different scenarios with experts on hand to advise, according to the group.
“The Brexit workshop gave members an opportunity to discuss problems which might be heading their way,” said Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA. “What everyone wants to know is how to plan ahead, what is the timetable and what is the government doing to address their concerns?”
Beale added that the "workshop gave everyone an opportunity to make sure the pitfalls that Brexit would bring were on their radar as well as any opportunities. It also gave them a chance to tell the Defra minister first-hand what the concerns for the wine and spirit trade were. We have always said it is important for industry to lead and ensure politicians are working in our best interests.”
The WSTA is a British organisation for the wine and spirit industry, representing over 300 companies producing, importing, transporting and selling wine and spirits. It states that it works with its members to promote responsible production, marketing and sale of alcohol.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Kevin Duggan. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.