WSTA: Frictionless borders needed to prevent smuggling

The WSTA has warned that Brexit talks must achieve “frictionless borders” to avoid alcohol smugglers at ports.

The triggering of Article 50 on 29 March has generated concern from WSTA members that post Brexit red tape at trade boarders will transform key ports into lorry Parks.

“There must be clear and workable mechanisms in place to allow cross-border trade of wine and spirits from the moment we leave the EU,” said Chief Executive of WSTA Miles Beale.

“Anything else will result in huge delays at the ports leading to backlogs and gridlock. If this happens it is not unrealistic to expect an influx of bootleggers looking to find more efficient ways of getting alcohol into the UK.”

The WSTA wine trade is worth £17.3 billion and imports 1.8 billion bottles of wine into Britain worth £2.8 billion.

“Imports from and exports to countries from outside the European Union are subject to customs controls,” added Beale.

“Goods from the EU, however, are free to be moved on with no extra checks, safeguarded by EU standards and the terms of the single market.

“When the UK leaves the customs union, it would see more than double the volume of cargo that could be subject to inspection at British ports.”

The UK wine industry is central to the global wine trade. It is the second largest wine importer by volume to Germany and the second largest by value to the USA.

“Government need to be doing more to address the concerns of the industries like wine importers who rely on the smooth flow of trade with the EU,” said Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter.

“Without frictionless trade we could see industry grinding to a halt and some of the 270 thousand people employed by the UK wine industry could find themselves out of a job.”