Wine producers, importers and retailers have united across the English Channel to call for a transitional deal that keeps trade flowing after the UK made good on its promise to trigger Article 50 and start the Brexit stopwatch.
Around 55% of wine imported into the UK comes from the European Union and neither side wants to jeopardise sales.
This week, European trade body CEEV and the UK’s Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) joined forces to jointly call for a transitional trade deal between the UK and EU to keep the wine flowing.
It came as UK primer minister Theresa May informed Parliament that the government had triggered Article 50, which officially starts the two-year ‘Brexit’ process.
It emerged that the Article 50 letter was handed over at high noon on 29 March, after making its way to Brussels on the Eurostar train.
The WSTA has warned of ‘lorry parks’ in the south-east of England if a deal to keep trade flowing is not sorted by the time Brexit happens. Any import duties will also add further cost pressures to a wine trade already considering price rises.
May has let it be known that she is willing to take the UK out of the single market and also the customs union, under the overall banner of ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. Critics argue that this might not necessarily be the case.
‘There is no doubt that the UK market is of utmost importance for EU wine producers,’ said Jean Marie Barillère, CEEV president.
‘The overall objective of the CEEV is to ensure that there will be no disruption of wine trade flows between the United-Kingdom and the EU-27,’ said Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, secretary general of CEEV.
WSTA chief executive Miles Beale agreed. ‘A phased leaving process will allow time to establish an EU free trade agreement and to put in place the necessary systems and infrastructure.
‘Failure to do so, risks disruption to supply chains, chaos at UK ports, increases in costs for UK businesses and ultimately even higher prices for consumers.’
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