The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) says claims that that EU wine importation costs would be nil or negligible in the event of no-deal Brexit are ‘astonishing’.
Defra was asked to assess the cost of VI-1 import forms on all EU wines, which would follow a no-deal Brexit.
The WSTA has challenged the reply given by Victoria Prentis, undersecretary of state for Defra, who said, ‘As inspections for imported wine are undertaken on a risk-based percentage, regardless of origin or import certification, no specific assessment has been made regarding additional costs of controls, although it is expected to be nil or negligible.’
VI-1 cost facts and figures
The WSTA says that if Britain falls out of the EU without a deal an estimated 600,000 new import certificates (known as VI-1 forms), all accompanied by costly a lab analysis, will be required to keep wine flowing in from Europe.
Wine leaving the UK for the EU will also have to complete a VI-1 form – meaning an estimated additional 150,000 forms which will put a strain on wine exports.
Each form comes at an estimated cost of £20 per two-page document – which is filled out by hand. And the laboratory tests will cost £300/£400 a time.
The extra form filling means UK wine inspectors will find themselves ‘drowning in processing the paperwork’, says the organisation, as every handwritten VI-1 form will have to be scrutinised and stamped before wine from Europe is allowed into the UK.
It is estimated that it would take 12 full-time wine inspectors a whole year to process the half a million new VI-1 forms expected to mount up after a no-deal Brexit.
WSTA says that Prentis mislead Parliament by ignoring the £70m bill anticipated by British businesses from the extra red tape, including the estimated 600,000 customs forms that would be needed. These would likely treble the inspection board’s workload overnight and that EU wine producers will inevitably pass some, or all, of these costs on to UK importers and customers.
As well as putting a huge burden on the UK wine industry, the organisation says this will also lead to higher wine prices – adding an estimated 10p on a bottle of wine.
Miles Beale, WSTA’s chief executive, said: ‘The Minister has been highly selective in focussing on the costs falling on UK enforcement bodies of requiring import certificates for EU wine and has chosen to completely overlook the significant costs falling to exporters, costs which will have to be met by UK importers and ultimately UK consumers if we leave without a deal.
‘It is extremely disappointing that despite four years of discussing this issue with Defra the facts have fallen on deaf ears and the Minister has confirmed that the government has not even bothered to make an assessment.
‘Far from taking back control, simply rolling over and having to bend to existing EU law which disadvantages wine imports makes absolutely no sense for a nation of wine lovers that imports 99% of the wine we enjoy. This government needs to wake up, listen to business and start taking action that supports economic activity and job creators. And it doesn’t have long to do it!’
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