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Brexit: ‘Huge relief’ as wine import papers delayed

New import papers that could have contributed to price rises on EU wines entering the UK won't be introduced from 1 July, but trade officials have called on ministers to scrap the certificates completely.

There was a degree of good news for wine shippers, retailers and potentially drinkers this week after the UK government postponed the post-Brexit introduction of new wine import papers.

The simplified certificates were due to be required on EU wines entering Great Britain from 1 July. But ministers have reset the deadline to the end of the year.

‘The delay comes as a huge relief for the UK wine sector and its 130,000 employees,’ said Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

‘This is something the WSTA has been calling for to avoid wine price hikes, permanently disrupted supply and drastically reduced consumer choice from July.’

Around 55% of the UK’s wine imports come from the EU.

The government move also follows a letter signed by around 50 importers, merchants and retailers – including major names – calling on the import papers to be scrapped.

Costs have already risen due to Brexit, the firms said.

Some in the trade have warned of supply disruption in early 2021 and that wine price rises are likely due to the extra paperwork now involved in transporting wine over the English Channel.

Beale said this week that the WSTA also wants the government to scrap the import papers.

The certificates are intended as a ‘simplified’ version of VI-1 import forms.

Those forms are required by the EU for wine imports from non-member countries, and it was at one stage feared that the UK might enforce its own version of VI-1s on EU wines entering the country after Brexit.

‘This battle is far from over,’ said Beale. ‘A delay is merely kicking the can down the road – yet again.’

He added, ‘Instead of prevaricating, ministers should be seizing this opportunity to help boost the UK wine sector, promote free trade and get a better deal for British wine businesses and consumers.’

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