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Wine groups welcome UK New Zealand trade deal

A free trade deal signed this week may give fans of New Zealand wines in the UK more choice of bottles, one leading industry body has said.

A trade deal signed by the UK and New Zealand this week promises benefits for winemakers, merchants and drinkers, according to industry bodies.

Miles Beale, CEO of the UK Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), said the deal means the country’s wine lovers ‘will have greater choice’.

He said it was also ‘a very good deal for the wine and spirit industry’.

New Zealand Winegrowers, representing the country’s wine sector, also welcomed the free trade deal, which was signed in London yesterday (28 February) by ministers from both countries.

It’s part of UK efforts to agree new trading terms with many countries following Brexit.

‘The UK is New Zealand’s second largest export market for wine, with exports valued at over $400m (£202m) over the past 12 months,’ said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

‘This will help remove technical barriers to trade, and minimise burdens from certification and labelling requirements. It will also support future growth in the market, and encourage exporters to focus on the UK.’

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Manuka honey and kiwi fruit could become ‘more affordable’, according to the UK government.

The deal comes as the wine trade faces higher costs, however. Daniel Lambert, of importer Daniel Lambert Wines, suggested New Zealand wines were unlikely to be cheaper in the short-term, although the trade deal might help reduce pressure for price rises.

In a Twitter thread, he said the ‘cost of shipping from NZ has gone up dramatically over the year’, and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was ‘in extremely short supply’.

NZ Winegrowers has previously said that managing supplies is a key issue following a 2021 harvest that is ‘exceptional’ yet smaller than hoped for.

Still, trade groups were optimistic about the opportunities presented by the trade deal.

Beale said: ‘This is a great deal for the UK’s wine importers and the jobs supported across the UK, which rely on over £750m in sales of New Zealand wine in the UK annually – from bottling and logistics to hospitality and retail.’

He added, ‘This modern FTA not only eliminates many tariff barriers, but permanently removes wine import certification for New Zealand wines and broadens the accepted list of New Zealand’s oenological practices permitted.’

It could also help the UK’s growing array of distilleries. UK spirits exports to New Zealand are worth around £15m per year, and British gin exports have doubled in the past three years, according to the WSTA.

The UK government said the FTA was the most advanced deal that New Zealand has signed with any country bar Australia.

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