Wine trade faces £70m ‘no-deal’ tab

A leading trade body has warned of the “catastrophic” cost to the wine industry of new trading rules that would apply if a deal with the EU is not agreed by the end of the transition period.

Mike Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Association, expressed anger at a government minister’s assertion that the costs for importing wine after Brexit were expected to be “nil or negligible”.

Beale told the FT that Victoria Prentis, a Defra minister, had been “highly selective” in focusing on the costs falling on UK enforcement bodies of requiring import certificates for EU wine rather than the “significant costs” falling on exporters, importers and consumers.

The paper reported that if the UK fails to agree a trade deal with the EU, import certificates known as V1 forms would be needed for every consignment of wine imported from the bloc at a cost of up to £70m a year, the equivalent of 10p on each bottle of wine.

More than half of the wine drunk in the UK comes from the EU and can currently enter without border checks.

Defra officials told the paper the minister had been responding to a parliamentary question relating to the cost of inspections for wine imports and had therefore not been misleading in her response.

The Wine & Spirits Association has already warned that the government’s plan to apply wine tariffs when the transition period ends on 31 December represents another blow to wine importers, independent wine merchants, pubs, and restaurants at a time when many are worried about the future of their businesses due to the impact of Covid-19.

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