To date, ministers have remained tight lipped over plans for the wine and spirits industry as they devise Britain’s exit from the EU.
At a meeting with the secretary for state for Defra, Andrea Leadsom MP, yesterday chief executive Miles Beale presented the WSTA’s Brexit policy paper which shows the wine and spirit industry is united, has ‘clear objectives’ and is ‘uniquely well placed to advise government’.
This included a call for British gin to be given protected status in recognition of its ‘quality’ and ‘global appeal’. Gin is the second largest traded UK spirit after whisky with three out of every four bottles of gin imported round the world coming from the UK.
The meeting was also used to stress the importance of the UK wine industry to the British economy, worth £2.8bn in imported goods and £440m in exports. The UK is the largest per capita importer of wine in the world, with France being the UK’s largest wine trading partner by value, worth £1bn in trade in 2015.
The WSTA Brexit policy paper - The Road Ahead for the Wine and Spirit Industry – has been drawn up to establish how best to meet and exploit the challenges of leaving the EU.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: “For a genuinely global industry like wine and spirits, Brexit will bring both challenges and opportunities.
"We understand why government want to keep their Brexit cards close to their chest, but as an industry we hold some very valuable cards and can help ministers to come up trumps on trade. So we are asking government to let industry lead.
“A lot of work is going on behind the scenes to ensure that industry is on the front foot to help government to prepare the best possible case for uninterrupted trade with the EU, and the best possible platform for bilateral trade deals with priority countries.
“The size and the contribution made by the wine and spirit industry to the UK economy should not be ignored; and its influence with key trading partners should not be underestimated.”