The official negotiating period between the EU and UK to reach a Free Trade Agreement by the end of the year began today and spiritsEurope believes it to be essential that further cliff-edge negotiation, with all the subsequent economic disruption, be avoided.
“The deadline to reach a deal is extremely tight” states the association which represents the interests of 31 associations of spirits producers as well as nine leading multinational spirits companies, “yet we believe some essential aspects need to be covered by an FTA covering trading of goods with zero tariff and quotas.”
The agreement should include a level-playing field commitment mechanism preventing the UK from gaining undue competitive advantages by diverging from (or reducing) EU regulatory standards, states spiritsEurope which has called for a dynamic alignment system to be put in place making sure the UK stays as close as possible to EU rules as they evolve.
“This will require a clear process in place that guarantees effective collaboration between EU and UK policy-makers and business when there are relevant changes to the rules or when disputes over the agreement arise.”
As of this week, both sides will have to agree their negotiating mandates and spiritsEurope has stated that, “In addition to continued tariff-free trade for spirits between the UK and EU27, we need tariff-free trade for some of our sectors’ key inputs such as cereals, cream, Point-Of-Sale materials, glass and other packaging materials”.
The future trading relationship should maintain a high degree of harmonisation or convergence of legislation including spirits definitions and the recognition & protection of Geographical Indications as planned in the Withdrawal Agreement, believes spiritsEurope.
“This practice should be sustained over the years when registering new GIs in the EU or UK. The FTA should also include a comprehensive customs agreement to avoid processing delays, (possible) conformity assessments and related administration costs.
“As the UK will most likely not stay in a Customs Union with the EU, both will negotiate their own trade deals with third countries around the world. It will be important to implement a strong collaboration to ensure that coherent regulatory requirements are established in third countries, facilitating a fair and smooth international trade of spirits,” it concludes.