Thursday 26 May 2016 3:50 pm

Drink up: Brexit could threaten the UK wine industry's export markets

Britain's place in the international wine industry supply chain could be drained out if the UK votes for Brexit, an industry body has warned. 

Exchequer Secretary Damian Hinds, who visited Europe's biggest bottling plant today with the WSTA, was warned by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has warned that exports of wine produced and bottled in the UK may fall if the UK leaves the EU and loses its access to the single market.

Wine manufactured in the UK can currently travel as freely to Amsterdam as it can to Aberdeen and the UK plays a prominent role in the supply chain for international wine companies who often choose the UK to bottle, label, transport and sell their products across Europe.

Read more: Britain is now the "beating heart" of the global wine trade

But the loss of access to the Single Market could mean the reintroduction of customs controls and trading barriers which could add additional costs to businesses operating here and make the UK a less attractive place to include in global supply chains.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WTSA, said:

Britain has seen a meteoric rise in its capacity to import, bottle and re-export wine and this in part is down to a huge investment in UK bottling plants. The UK is the world’s second largest importer of wine by volume, after Germany; and second by value behind the United States.

Per head of the adult population the UK is the world’s leading major importer by both volume and value and accounts for 13% per cent of all global wine imports – equivalent of the UK importing one bottle in 8 of all world wine imports.

Britain is the international wine trade’s destination of choice inside the EU and the other Northern hemisphere markets. It is the reason the UK remains arguably the most important wine trading nation in the world.

A recent analysis published by the Treasury makes clear the South West, in particular, benefits from the UK’s membership of the EU with around 250,000 jobs in the region linked to the UKs exports to other EU countries.

Read more: Conviviality to soak up wine wholesaler Bibendum

Hinds said:

From wine to cars, the goods manufactured here in the South West are exported across Europe and beyond.

If the UK votes to leave the EU then the loss of access to the Single Market will result in a profound economic shock that will make this country permanently poorer. So, the message is clear, leaving the EU could drain investment away from the UK.

In March, the WSTA publicly said the UK's alcohol industry would benefit more from Britain remaining in the Eu than leaving. 

Britain's wine and spirits industry is worth £45bn and supports nearly 600,000 jobs, while the EU export market was worth £1.8bn in 2015.