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WSTA urges government to act on concerns of industry

Published:  19 September, 2019

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) used its 2019 Industry Summit as a platform to urge the government to act on the concerns of the industry, also highlighting the “lack of political leadership replaced by heavy handed political manoeuvring”.

In his introductory speech, chief executive Miles Beale said the government seemed “hell bent on failing to act on the concerns of the industry”.

“In Downing Street, a lack of political leadership has been replaced by heavy handed political manoeuvring. Disruption, drift and division seem to be becoming the new norm,” said Beale, adding [for the fourth year running], that the industry faced an “unprecedented” UK political climate.

Taking place yesterday, the Summit fell a week after the WSTA went public on the government’s decision not to suspend costly VI1 import certificates in the case of a no deal scenario, which the WSTA has said would land the wine trade with a bill of up to £70m.

It also comes at a time when the industry is still no clearer as to whether the UK will join the World Wine Trade Group or if it will see improved FTA’s with wine producing nations based on mutual recognition, as well as coinciding with controversial plans to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers.

All of which, said the WSTA, “leaves the trade with one conclusion – that the government doesn’t understand the value of the UK wine industry nor the value of imports in general to the UK economy. Imports are worth roughly the same as exports to the UK economy”.

“We had been led to believe the government had heard and understood our concerns, but recent announcements suggest otherwise," said Beale.

“As we have said throughout the last three years we have to continue to prepare and plan for ‘no deal’. We’ve always said there will be significant short-term disruption and this has been finally acknowledged by the government once it was forced to publish the Yellowhammer report. Not a reassuring read.”

The Summit heard that over the last few days there were “glimmers of hope of finding a negotiated settlement that doesn’t include a backstop”.

“This might just open the door for a deal to be struck at the European Summit in less than a month’s time. But the government will be up against the clock,” said Beale, while also stressing the need for industry to “unite and work together”.

The WSTA also used the event to announce a series of new WSTA projects following a comprehensive review of its membership, including a more user-friendly and slicker website, the publication of its ‘Our Vision, Your Voice’ - a new take on the WSTA’s role, aims and priorities and the launch of the WSTA’s new Environmental Best Practice paper.