WSTA calls for "full Brexit divorce" and warns of a "breakdown" in talks

Brexit WSTA divorce breakdown talks trading trade wine spirits

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has called on the Government to negotiate a "full divorce settlement" for Brexit, to allow the wine and spirit industry to prepare for a post-EU trading environment, and to be ready in case "talks break down". 

Miles Beale, the chief executive of the WSTA warned that a "failed negotiation would be totally unacceptable", and said the group had been "working with its members to ensure businesses are prepared and have started to plan" for possible short-term trading disruption to and from the EU.

"It would be naive not to plan for the worst case scenario in which talks break down", the association stated.

Brexit could see a contraction in trade from Europe, the group said, which would mean the UK will need to increase non-EU trading partners as a result. These terms would only be possible once the UK has left the customs union properly, and would require an official transition period towards a free trade agreement, the WSTA added.

“Failure to agree terms resulting in a cliff-edge ‘no deal’ Brexit would be the worst possible outcome and totally unacceptable," says Beale. "This would inevitably lead to disruption to trade flows in the short term and significant uncertainty for business in the medium term.

“It is essential that the UK secures transitional measures allowing sufficient time for the necessary systems to be introduced and properly tested. The WSTA is doing all it can by engaging with our European trading partners, it’s vital that the UK Government does the same.”

The calls come soon after the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and the Association for Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) warned that the result of the General Election was "bad for business" thanks to the uncertainty of the 'hung' parliament result. 

Figures from the WSTA show the UK to be the world's second largest importer of wine by volume and value, accounting for 277,000 jobs, as well as the largest exporter of spirits in the world, supporting 296,000 jobs either directly or indirectly.

The WSTA itself claims to represent over 300 companies producing, importing, transporting and selling wine and spirits.

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