Tariffs: Brexit latest, US suspension plea
From new Brexit duty-free limits to US tariff tension, January 2021 has reminded us how access to wine can be affected by shifting international trade rules. An 11th-hour Brexit deal brought some good news for the UK’s 33 million wine drinkers, said Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).
From Prosecco to grand cru Burgundy, EU wines won’t require the ‘much feared, costly VI-1 certificate’, he said. These forms, and accompanying lab tests, could have cost the trade £70m and fuelled price rises, the WSTA had argued.
A ‘simplified import certificate’ will suffice from July 2021, but some media reports suggested Brexit-related administration costs might still lead to higher prices.
Beale explained that exporters in the EU faced 15 steps when shipping wine to the UK now, compared to six prior to 1 January.
‘It’s too early to predict what the extra costs might be’, he said, adding that it was a challenging period for the trade, in which it was also still dealing with the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
New duty-free rules
The UK government said new duty-free allowances are generous by global standards. However, under the previous regime, there was no official limit to bringing wine into the UK from another EU state for private consumption – carrying more than 90 litres (10 cases of 12x75cl bottles) in a car might have led to you being questioned at the border.
EU duty-free policies still apply to Northern Ireland, but new rules state you can enter Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) with up to 18 litres (24 bottles) of still wine without paying additional duty tax or VAT.
You can also bring in either nine litres of sparkling and fortified wines or four litres of spirits. Officials say you can split this if you wish, such as by using 50% each of your spirits and sparkling wine allowances*.
Is the English Channel booze cruise over? ‘I think there’s still life in it,’ said Guy Boursot, founder of Boursot Vins near Calais. ‘It’s a good day out, for one thing,’ he said. He was seeking extra clarification on Brexit rules, particularly for UK mail orders. Plus, he added,
when sending wines: ‘We are being asked for new forms every day.’
In the other direction, duty-free shopping is now available for Britons heading to Europe, with a four-litre limit on still wines.
Across the Atlantic, more European wines were hit by a 25% US import tariff in the final days of the Trump administration. French and German still wines above 14% alcohol and grape-based spirits, such as Cognac, from those countries were among the latest targets amid the US-EU dispute over aerospace industry subsidies.
Since October 2019, the US has imposed a 25% tariff on French, Spanish, German and UK still wines at 14% or below. The EU has imposed tariffs on US goods, but not wine. Some US merchants say these levies have reduced availability and raised prices.
As Decanter went to press, all eyes were on incoming president Joe Biden. The US National Association of Beverage Importers called for a 180-day suspension of the tariffs, ‘as authorised by US trade law’, to allow time to solve the impasse.
European wine trade group CEEV and the California-based Wine Institute jointly called for tariffs to end. Wine Institute president Bobby Koch ( left) said: ‘This dispute has absolutely nothing to do with wine and we call on the US and EU to urgently redouble their efforts to reach an agreement.’
* For more detail on the revised UK duty-free rules, see www.gov.uk/duty-free-goods ➢
New research has suggested that cheese and red wine could help prevent cognitive decline with age.
It may seem too good to be true, but researchers exploring links between diet and cognitive performance over time said they found evidence that red wine could improve brain function.
Cheese also offers protection against cognitive decline, suggested the findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (vol 78, No3, 2020).
Researchers analysed dietary survey responses and ‘fluid intelligence tests’ for 1,748 adults, contained in the UK’s ‘Biobank’. Data was recorded between 2006 and
2016, by which time participants were aged between 46 and 77. Auriel Willette, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition at Iowa
State University, which led the study, said: ‘I was pleasantly surprised that our results suggest that responsibly eating cheese and drinking red wine daily are not just good for helping us cope with our current Covid-19 pandemic, but perhaps also dealing with an increasingly complex world that never seems to slow down.’
Willette added: ‘Randomised clinical trials are needed to determine whether making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways.’
A Lancet Commission report on dementia prevention and care in 2020 said dietary research was still emerging, yet a healthy diet and regular exercise were linked to lower risk. Obesity and excess alcohol increased risk, the report said.