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WSTA claims victory as VI-1 forms scrapped

Published:  26 July, 2021

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has won a significant post-Brexit victory after government has agreed to scrap the time consuming and costly VI-1 forms on imported wine.

Defra’s announcement that wine-specific VI-1 forms will now not be required for imports from the EU and beyond, is a huge boost for producers, importers and consumers — 99% of wine consumed in the UK is imported, with 55% of that coming from the EU.

The scrapping of these tariffs will prevent the price of a bottle of wine increasing by around 13p. 

If the plans to introduce VI-1s to wine coming in from the EU had come into play, imports would have required laboratory analysis — a process the WSTA estimates would have cost about £330 per shipment and may well have put off smaller producers from sending their wines to the UK reducing consumer choice.

Following the referendum, the WSTA started a campaign calling for government to do away with the VI-1 forms on imported wine.

The historic removal of the red tape will mean the UK’s 33 million wine consumers will be able to continue to enjoy "the vast range” of imported wines without additional costs, said the WSTA.

“This is a truly historic moment for the UK’s world-leading wine trade,” said CEO Miles Beale. 

“We have spent more than two years campaigning relentlessly to avoid the introduction of new import certificates for EU wine imports on the one hand and scrapping the unnecessary and costly VI-1 wine paperwork for on-EU wine imports on the other. 

“The first would have cost the UK wine industry some £70m [annually], reduced consumer choice and bumped up prices. The second will increase those savings to over £100m. It’s a truly fantastic outcome,” he said. 

It was, he added, “heartening” to know that government trust the WSTA’s advice and are listening to the concerns of business, particularly SMEs. 

“This is a major win for wine lovers and the UK wine industry. I am sure corks will be popping across the globe in celebration of this most welcome news.”

The UK wine industry contributes around £11bn every year in economic activity and employs 130,000 people across the supply chain.