The trade association, which represents over 300 of the UK’s wine and spirit businesses, said their members needed sufficient time to prepare their businesses for a post-EU trading environment.
Speaking before the first round of Brexit talks this week, WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “We [the WSTA] have long argued for a negotiated deal, including a full ‘divorce’ settlement and agreement on the terms of the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU.
“It is essential that the UK secures transitional measures allowing sufficient time for the necessary systems to be introduced and properly tested.”
Free trade agreement
Beale called for a transition period that would allow the UK to agree a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU. The UK could then to make good progress on other bilateral FTAs with other trading partners.
What the WTSA wants
- Fully-negotiated “divorce settlement” with the EU
- Transitional measures to allow its members to adjust to any new deal with the EU
- Free Trade Agreement with between the UK and the EU
- No disruption to established trading patterns
The UK is one of the largest exporters of spirits in the world. The industry supports up to 296,000 jobs in the UK – directly and indirectly – and can only invest and grow if trade flows are secure, claimed the WSTA.
WSTA said it had been working with its members to ensure businesses were prepared and have started to plan to take action to reduce the impact of trade flows being disrupted, particularly to and from the EU, in the short term.
“Our industry needs all the European politicians to hear and understand this message from the entire international wine industry,” added Beale. “EU politicians have a responsibility to our industry to deliver a Brexit that in no way disrupts the long established trading patterns on which we all rely.
‘Cliff-edge ‘no deal’ Brexit’
“Failure to agree terms resulting in a cliff-edge ‘no deal’ Brexit would be the worst possible outcome and totally unacceptable.”
The WSTA urged the UK to join the World Wide Trade Group and negotiate bilateral agreements with Australia and the US to mitigate the risks involved with a hard Brexit.
“The WSTA is doing all it can by engaging with our European trading partners, it’s vital that the UK Government does the same,” said the organisation.
However, the Conservative party manifesto said that with the Brexit talks, “no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK”.
Meanwhile, calls for a soft Brexit – maintaining closer ties to the EU’s market of 510M customers – continue to rise after the general election, as the Institute of Directors (IoD) reveals a “dramatic drop” in business confidence since the hung parliament.