The association representing UK wine and spirit companies has called on the country’s government to negotiate a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union (EU), as the UK prepares to leave the political bloc.
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) warned that a so-called ‘cliff edge Brexit’, where the UK failed to negotiate a trading agreement ahead of the deadline for its withdrawal, would be ‘totally unacceptable’.
The calls coincide with the first formal face-to-face talks between the UK’s Brexit Secretary David Davis and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “While there has been a great deal of speculation over recent days about what the election result means for Brexit negotiations, the WSTA’s position remains unchanged. We have long argued for a negotiated deal, including a full ‘divorce’ settlement and agreement on the terms of the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU.”
Beale also warned that Brexit may result in reduced trade with Europe, which will mean that British wine and spirits companies will have to increase their exports to non-EU markets. He called on the UK government to negotiate new bilateral trade deals with non-EU governments.
“It is essential that the UK secures transitional measures allowing sufficient time for the necessary systems to be introduced and properly tested. Ideally a transition period would allow the UK to agree a Free Trade Agreement with the EU and then to make good progress on other bilateral FTAs with our major trading partners. Such a transition would give businesses time to prepare fully for a post-EU trading environment.
“Failure to agree terms resulting in a cliff-edge ‘no deal’ Brexit would be the worst possible outcome and totally unacceptable. This would inevitably lead to disruption to trade flows in the short term and significant uncertainty for business in the medium term – until trade deals with the EU and the UK’s other major trading partners could be agreed.
“And I will be taking this exact same message to the 45,000 visitors from 150 countries in Vinexpo, Bordeaux’s international wine and spirit trade show next week. Our industry needs all the European politicians to hear and understand this message from the entire international wine industry. EU politicians have a responsibility to our industry to deliver a Brexit that in no way disrupts the long established trading patterns on which we all rely.”
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