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No deal Brexit “not acceptable” for drinks trade

Published:  19 September, 2018

Brexit is the “most significant” short-term challenge facing the wine sector, Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) told delegates at its conference yesterday (18 September).

He reiterated WSTA calls that a failure or no deal is not an acceptable outcome but expressed concern about the current situation.

“I would dearly love not to be talking about Brexit. But it’s by far the most significant short-term challenge facing the sector,” he said.

Beale raised concern that the Government policy has almost entirely been aimed at a domestic audience and said the organisation was “underwhelmed” with progress.

“Information is too basic and ducks most of the questions we have been asking,” he said.

“WSTA believes firmly that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would not be acceptable. Glib political statements about the UK being able to thrive under WTO terms are just that – glib,” he said.

He said this fails to take into account the damage that the short-term disruption at borders would have.

“And there will be disruption because whatever the Government has said about UK controls – they have no say in the controls on goods, vehicles and people leaving the EU for the UK or entering the EU from the UK.”

The WSTA has called on the Government to use the EMCS system as a model to move goods.

Beale also said that trading conditions remain tough and the UK economy sluggish.

The WSTA has launched its Budget 2018 campaign and it is calling on the Chancellor not to pass on an RPI related increase, but to freeze excise duty again.

“We were delighted when the Chancellor froze duty last November and I am delighted to say that our economic forecasts have been proven right,” he said.

“Data for the first 6 months of 2018 shows that excise revenue has increased by 5% - or £270m - compared to the same period in 2017.”

Beale said that while the Government’s alcohol strategy “took us all by surprise” the organisation will continue to work in partnership.

“Government needs our help to encourage growth in no and low alcohol products, and to continue to offer industry backed schemes like CAP.”

“The Government recognises industry’s expertise in consumer behaviour – and want us as partners in their aims to reduce harmful drinking and to drive down obesity – to name two. ”