The UK organisation representing over 300 companies producing, importing, transporting and selling wine and spirits welcomed the news that the new requirement on wine importers to provide import certification, or VI-1 forms, for EU wines has been postponed from January the 1st until the 1st of July 2021.
“This sensible extension of ‘business as usual’ by the UK government is late-breaking common sense and shows that the WSTA’s arguments and lobbying efforts have at last been heard in Whitehall,” said the WSTA’s Chief Executive Miles Beale, “We’ve campaigned since the Brexit vote for the Government to understand the damaging implications of imposing import certification requirements on wines imported from the EU – including burdensome paperwork, laboratory tests and significant additional cost for businesses.
Last year the WSTA warned that the new inspections for imported EU wine required as a result of the imposition of VI-1s would generate over 600,000 customs forms.
“There’s still a significant risk that VI-1 forms could cause permanent damage to the UK as an international wine trading hub and there’s the very real prospect of job losses in businesses already dealing with the impact of Covid-19.
“Over half the wine some 33 million UK wine drinkers enjoy comes from the EU and ultimately the imposition of more pointless VI-1 forms would mean reduced consumer choice and increased costs for the UK’s most popular alcoholic drink.”
But this government decision does not yet provide a sensible, lasting solution, he added, however it does offer some breathing space for wine importers and traders.
WSTA estimates put the cost of the requirement for the VI-1 forms at £70 million for wine importers in the first year alone.
“We believe it’s high time that Ministers use the additional time the grace period provides to commit to abolishing the requirement for VI-1 forms entirely,” he concluded, “This is the only way to meet the Government’s stated aim of a level playing field for all wine imports no matter their origin.”
Were the Government to commit to scrapping VI-1s completely the threat that businesses could fold or be forced to relocate outside the UK would not only be removed but such a commitment would offer a real boost to a UK industry which garners the Exchequer £4.4 billion a year and supports 130,000 jobs, points out the WSTA which has repeatedly warned that VI-1 forms will add an estimated 10p onto a bottle of wine.