Former trade minister to address WSTA conference on Brexit

05 August, 2016

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has announce that former minister for trade and minister for Europe, Lord Francis Maude, will be the keynote speaker at its annual conference.

The WSTA has chosen ‘Brexit and the Changing Shape of the Industry’ as its conference theme, following the referendum vote to exit the EU.

Having resigned from his ministerial post in February 2016, prior to the referendum, Lord Maude of Horsham comes to the WSTA conference with first-hand experience on how government will tackle new trading arrangements.

Lord Maude said: “I hope my talk will provide practical insights for one of the UK’s most successful industries, including about what to expect next following the UK vote to leave the EU.

“I have lived and breathed European and international trade matters for nearly three decades. I negotiated the early single market measures; was Margaret Thatcher’s minister for Europe and was deeply involved in the Maastricht negotiations.

“More recently I was at the heart of the Conservative Party’s thinking on European policy as shadow chancellor, shadow foreign secretary and part chairman.

“My aim will be to offer my views on how Theresa May’s government is likely to approach Brexit and how the UK government’s approach will be received; as well as to draw out some lessons from some of my own experiences in international and Single Market trade discussions.

“The UK wine and spirit industry deserves its leading place in the global market and is vital to this country’s economic prospects. I hope to cast some light during what are uncertain times for WSTA members and British businesses more generally, especially ones trading with the rest of the world. But there will be opportunities as well, and industry and government will need to work together closely to identify and then grab them,” said Maude.

In his post as minister for trade and investment, 2015 to 2016, Lord Maude sat in the Trade Ministers Council and was heavily involved in international trade negotiations, especially transatlantic trade.

He is well placed to comment on how the government will be mapping out the UK’s future trade agreements and can offer members a glimpse of what might be going on behind the scenes in government.

Between 1987 to 1992 he was minister for corporate affairs at the DTI, minister for Europe and Hong Kong at the FCO and financial secretary to the Treasury.  During this period, Lord Maude was Margaret Thatcher’s minister for negotiating single market directives and regulations.

As financial secretary he was involved in the Maastricht negotiations and alongside Douglas Hurd is one of the two British signatories on the historic document. Lord Maude later commented that the Maastricht treaty could have been a turning point for the European Union but failed to move away from the theology of one size fits all.

He retired from front line politics earlier this year after agreeing a new government export strategy and introducing a reform plan which cut costs and increased practical and financial support for export businesses.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “For a genuinely global industry like wine and spirits, Brexit will have seismic and game-changing effect on our trade and the WSTA’s agenda. Our aim is to provide members with as much informed comment during such uncertain times. There are few more authoritative voices on trade than Lord Maude, the last government’s trade minister – and even fewer with such long experience.

“Lord Maude will have a fascinating, insightful view on how the future of our industry - and our country - is likely to look outside the EU. We are very lucky to have him speak to us and I am greatly looking forward to hearing his views. They will influence what the WSTA does next.”

This year’s WSTA conference is taking place on September 13 at The Royal Institution of Great Britain in central London.

Keywords: west, exit

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