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Beale: 'The threat of VI-1 forms is still very real’

Published:  28 October, 2020

The WSTA has warned that the threat of VI-1 forms is still "very real", saying that the policy, not just the timing, still needs to change.

The warning follows yesterday’s (Tuesday) government announcement that VI-1 certificates will not be required for EU wine imported into Great Britain from 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021 - a temporary six month suspension. 

While referring to the suspension as a “victory for business - and for common sense”, CEO Miles Beale has warned that the government must "do more than delay - and abolish VI1's completely", saying that yesterday’s announcement represented “no more than much needed ‘breathing space’ for the industry”.

“Over half the wine some 33 million UK wine drinkers enjoy comes from the EU, and despite the suspension announced yesterday, the threat of VI-1 forms is still very real,” said Beale.

Ultimately, he added, unless government took further action, it was inevitable that UK wine consumers would see reduced choice on shelves and would have to “pay more for the wines they love” in addition to creating “burdensome paperwork, laboratory tests and significant additional cost for businesses”.

James Miles, chairman, MD and co-founder of online fine wine trading platform Liv-ex, who has been working with the WSTA to get the certification scrapped, added: “We welcome this brief period of respite from the government. It is now vital that we use this time to find a better long-term solution for the UK market. 

“We want to get rid of this needless piece of bureaucracy, not just for our EU imports, but for those from the rest of the world too,” he said. 

Liv-ex would continue to work with the WSTA to make the suspension permanent, he added.

“This represents a genuine opportunity for the UK wine trade to improve on its position as the world’s leading wine hub as we exit the transition period at the end of the year.”

The six month suspension follows relentless lobbying by the WSTA for the paperwork to be scrapped, with the trade body having estimated that requiring these forms could cost wine importers £70m in the first 12 months alone. 

A recent report from a committee of MPs into the impact of VI-1 wine import certificates also warned that the red tape would “cause chaos and price hikes”.