The WSTA has welcomed the Government’s decision to temporary suspend the introduction of VI-1 forms until July 2021.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “‘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 1st 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.

“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 – including burdensome paperwork, laboratory tests and significant additional cost for businesses.

“There is still a significant risk that VI-1 forms could cause permanent damage to the UK as an international wine trading hub and there is 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.

“The decision announced today 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’s estimates suggest that requiring these forms could cost wine importers £70 million in the first 12 months alone. We believe it is high time that Ministers use the additional time the grace period provides to commit to abolishing the requirement for VI-1 forms entirely. 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. “