26 Aug 2016

NZ wine exporters urged to act post-Brexit

5:49 pm on 26 August 2016

The New Zealand wine industry must be ready to take full advantage of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, says a visiting wine trader from the UK.

A vineyard in Marlborough, near Blenheim.

A vineyard in Marlborough, near Blenheim. Photo: 123rf

UK Wine and Spirits Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale has been in this country for the wine industry's annual conference which was held in Blenheim.

Mr Beale said the United Kingdom's planned exit from the EU will open up opportunities for New Zealand as the UK starts doing its own trade deals.

He suggests exporters move early and start discussions with the UK.

"One of my key messages here is lobby the New Zealand government to make sure it is absolutely ready to do a bilateral free-trade deal with the UK government the moment it officially leaves the European Union.

"We can't do it before then but we should be ready to do it the day after."

Miles Beale said there was a great opportunity for New Zealand to improve its trading opportunities with the UK.

"There is already a pretty good trading relationship anyway but it is built on European rules and some of those rules in the main are very good we think there are some opportunities to improve them."

He said there was an element of the European rules which if not overtly protectionist take into account that there were a lot of of wine producing nations in the EU.

Mr Beale is warning the New Zealand wine industry will face some risks though.

He said no one would want a different system with different standards for wine going into Europe and the UK.

"We wouldn't want that to become any more complicated."

The other significant but difficult to predict risk is around what happens to European currencies.

"It's not clear to us how the Euro zone will perform and what will happen as things develop with the UK leaving the EU."

Mr Beale said the UK and New Zealand had a long trading history.

"If anything it has been slightly more indirect in the last 40 years as the UK has been part of the EU and I think it will go back to being more direct and dare I say it a bit more personal."

Mr Beale said there had been consistent growth in the value and volume of New Zealand wine in the United Kingdom.

"New Zealand wine has a very good reputation for good quality at good value."

Mr Beale said it tended to been seen as not competing at the lower end price in shops.

"It's very much more about quality and that stands it in good stead for the future."

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