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Adam Smith Institute calls out ‘Alice in Wonderland’ thinking on VI-1s

Published:  26 May, 2021

The Adam Smith Institute has added its voice to calls on government to reduce post-Brexit red tape for the wine trade, including scrapping the much derided and wholly unnecessary VI-1 forms.

In a post titled ‘So much for Brexit reducing regulation’ on the think tank’s website, senior fellow Tim Ambler used the example of the self-imposition of VI-1 forms for all shipments of wine from the EU (now delayed until January 2022) to highlight the wider impact of barriers and costs to trade.

Ambler described how the VI-1 form was introduced by the EU as a TTB (Technical Trade Barrier) in June 2008 to protect EU wineries from ‘third country’ imports.

He added that: “With Alice in Wonderland logic, the government decided that, post Brexit, VI-1 forms, and laboratory tests (now dropped), would be required for all wine imports from the EU.”

The post goes on to describe “the nonsense of DEFRA requiring third country wines coming into Great Britain to have VI-1s”, warning that some smaller producers in the EU and third countries were already deciding not to ship to the UK because of existing new layers of red tape and cost burden, thus “depriving the British wine trade and consumers of the most unusual and interesting wines”.

The planned introduction of “another red tape bonanza” in the shape of mandatory ‘certificates of inspection’ for organic wines in January 2022, plus the need for separate wine labels for EU and UK sales, would further put off winemakers who would otherwise ship to the UK.

Additional red tape was already adding up to £200 to the costs of shipping a pallet of wine, and more when multiple small consignments of wine were grouped together, “penalising hardest” the typically SME scale businesses comprising much of the wine trade – “precisely the sector the government regards as critical for post-pandemic recovery”.

The Adam Smith post concluded: “Brexit was sold to the nation on the basis that regulation would reduce and we would trade more freely with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, that is not what this government is delivering and, so far as wine is concerned, red tape is dramatically increasing. Government rhetoric is not the reality.”

A link to the original article can be found here