WSTA aims to set blueprint for post-Brexit trade deals

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association has begun talks with Australia and New Zealand on model trade agreements for wines and spirits which it says could become global blueprints to roll out after the UK leaves the EU.

Chief executive Miles Beale will tell the WSTA’s Annual Conference this afternoon that there is “warm and broad-based support in those countries for the WSTA to work with industry bodies and government to develop model trade agreements”.

He will say: “Trade in wines and spirits is mutually beneficial and all negotiators must and should recognise this.

“We have no intention of idly waiting around for Brexit to happen. We have to take action now.”

British spirits exports to Australia and New Zealand have more than doubled to £140 million over the past five years, while three-quarters of New Zealand and two-thirds of Australian wine shipments to the EU come to the UK first – including some stocks for re-export to other EU countries.

One in five bottles of wine sold in the UK is Australian and New Zealand is witnessing rapid growth in sales in the UK off-trade.

Beale will say: “While the UK cannot formally negotiate with the New Zealand and Australian governments yet, the industry can prepare most of the ground in advance. That’s precisely what the WSTA intends doing.

“Theresa May and her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull have both shown their support for pioneering free-trade deals between our two countries. Wines and spirits could and should be at the front of that deal.

“It is important that we act on this as soon as possible to help government make it a reality for our industry.

“While it will take time to work out our future with the EU countries what we cannot let slide is the opportunity we have to strengthen our relationship with those not tied to the EU.”