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Prentis promises to work with industry on certification and Brexit/Covid fallout

Published:  28 May, 2021

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has welcomed a “positive and productive” meeting with Victoria Prentis MP where she is said to have understood the “value” of the wine and spirits industry and vowed to work closely on rebuilding post-Brexit and Covid.

According to organisers, yesterday’s meeting was arranged to discuss post-Brexit obstacles, including the rolling-over of “unnecessary, inherited red tape” which threatens to hamper trading.

Prentis, who is Defra’s Under Secretary of State and Food and Farming Minister, said “The Government is committed to continued support for the sector so businesses can take advantage of all the opportunities that lie ahead.”

She also vowed to work closely with WSTA and its members to “help drive forward the Government’s ambitious agenda to champion great British products”.

The meeting follows another similar session between Prentis and the English and Welsh wine industry last week, where WineGB said the agriculture minister also gave “positive support”.

Prentis has been a somewhat controversial figure this year. Back in February, wine trade members delivered a one-of-a-kind collective letter to Prentis calling for the scrapping of VI-1s, following her comments in parliament to the effect that there was support from the trade for the much-criticised forms.

Today, Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said yesterday was “a really positive first meeting with the minister and her team. She understood fully the key issues affecting the sector today. I was particularly pleased that she wants to work more closely with the WSTA to find solutions that can resolve the issues we have raised and which can reinforce the UK’s position as a global hub for the wine and spirit trade.”

As part of recognising the value of the UK as the world’s wine and spirit hub, the WSTA said that the minister acknowledged the industry’s significant concerns regarding any introduction of new wine import certificates; and reiterated that the Government will continue to consider whether there is any value in retaining wine specific certifications at all.

She also committed to championing the wine and spirit industry across Government as the sector looks to rebuild and recover.

“We are committed to ensuring that the UK maintains its key role as a global trading hub for wine and spirits,” Prentis said.