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WSTA welcomes move to reinstate duty free for travellers

Published:  11 September, 2019

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has welcomed the Chancellor’s plan to reinstate duty-free for travellers moving between the UK and the EU in the event of a no deal Brexit.

However, the trade body warned that the move “is also a distraction from the main issue - the UK’s punitively high rates of excise duty”, with duty-free attractive to UK consumers “wholly thanks to excessive and increasing duty levels”, said chief executive Miles Beale.

“There are much bigger issues which would adversely affect our industry in the event of a no deal Brexit, such as the potential introduction of tariffs on wine. So the government shouldn’t only tinker with duty-free allowances for travellers. No ifs, no buts, the Chancellor should go further to back British business and support cash-strapped consumers by cutting duty on wine and on spirits at the next Budget,” he said.

Beale also pointed to the fact that wine drinkers in Spain and Italy, and 13 other EU countries “enjoy duty-free purchases without having to leave their shores”.

The WSTA comment follows chancellor Sajid Javid announcement that duty free purchasing on alcohol and cigarettes will return in the UK if it leaves the EU without a deal, which would mean Brits travelling to the EU would not have to pay excise duties on alcohol in a duty-free shop, in addition to giving them the option to buy limited amounts of alcohol in duty free shops in Europe and bring it back to the UK.

The move would mean a bottle of wine bought at a UK airport departure lounge would cost up to £2.23 less than normal.

The UK alcohol industry is one of the most heavily taxed in Europe, with wine the third highest duty rate.