VI-1 form suspension offers 'breathing space', but threat for wine trade is still 'very real'

Laura Foster

Laura Foster

29 October 2020

The government has announced the temporary suspension of VI-1 import certificates for wines being shipped from the European Union until July 2021

The move comes following a campaign from the WSTA that argued the forms are unnecessary and expensive, and would cost the wine industry £70m in the first year alone, with over 600,000 customs forms generated.

Last month, a cross-party group of MPs published a report stating that the forms have no benefit, and would add further time and cost for importers.

‘We have campaigned since the Brexit vote for the government to understand the damaging implications of imposing import certification requirements on wines imported from the EU,’ said Miles Beale, chief executive to the WSTA. ‘This would mean burdensome paperwork, laboratory tests and significant additional cost for businesses and so we welcome the news that the new requirement on wine importers to provide import certification, or VI-1 forms, for EU wines has been postponed until 1 July 2021. It shows welcome, late-breaking common sense – but it’s not the end of the matter.

‘Over half the wine some 33 million UK wine drinkers enjoy comes from the EU, and despite the suspension announced yesterday, the threat of VI-1 forms is still very real. Ultimately, unless government takes further action, it is inevitable that UK wine consumers will see reduced choice on shelves and will have to pay more for the wines they love.

‘Yesterday’s decision does not yet provide a sensible, lasting solution, but it offers some breathing space for the importers and traders that we represent. The granting of a grace period makes clear that Government now recognises the damaging impact that these forms would have on British businesses.’

The WSTA has predicted the introduction of the forms will add 10p onto the cost of a bottle of wine, and put jobs in the industry at risk.

Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, who chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Wines and Spirits, stated that these ‘unnecessary’ forms would ‘cause huge damage to this vital industry’.

‘It would be a huge mistake for the Government to replicate EU trade barriers for the rest of the world when leaving the European Union. It is the exact opposite of what they claimed they would do, and risks harming the UK wine sector massively.’

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