LONDON, March 27 (Xinhua) -- As there are still no signs of a clear path of Brexit with just two days before the Brexit day due on Friday, businesses engaged in exporting Italian wines to the UK feel confused about the future and some fear for the worse.
On Tuesday, the Italian Chamber of Commerce for the UK and Gambero Rosso, an Italian food and wine magazine and publishing group, presented in London the Tre Bicchieri Tour 2019, an event to showcase some of the finest wine cellars in Italy to reach more UK importers, distributors, consultants and retailers.
People in the trade missed no chance to sample some 150 excellent Italian wines but beyond the palatable flavor of wines, some fear the taste of Brexit could be all but agreeable.
The UK is the top market for Italian's Prosecco, a sparkling wine that fits all celebrations throughout the year. The British people's profound love for sparkling wine and the affordable price of Prosecco made it the most popular alternative to champagne for UK households.
"Champagne and the homegrown wines in the UK are really good but expensive," said John Davis, partner of Wine Cellar Discoveries, a wine intermediary. "If people want to find wines for everyday drink, they need to look to other parts of the world. They buy a lot from Italy because the products there are bill-friendly."
But under the shadow of Brexit uncertainties, "it could all change," said Davis.
Tariff could be a major problem. The UK has already had some of the highest duty rates for wines compared with other European countries and extra tariffs might be applied on imports from Italy after Brexit in a way the UK currently imposes tariffs on products from non-European Union (EU) countries.
"If Brexit works, it would drive up prices," said Davis. "People wouldn't stop drinking but would drink less."
As UK importers are securing a lot of wine stocks into the country to avoid extra tax after Brexit, wine prices would be stable for six months whatever the Brexit outcome is, he said.
For Alighiero Fausti, who works at De Angelis & C. Srl, exporting a total of 12,000 bottles annually to serve the UK restaurants does not mean a large market share in the country. Even so, when asked in which way Brexit will affect them, he replied with a short and emphatic answer: "In a bad way."
"Nobody knows what will happen," he said. "My main concern is higher tariffs and everything will be more difficult."
However, some exporters sound less worried. Annalisa Armani at Tommasi, a family viticultural company founded in 1902, made an upbeat tone.
"UK ranks one of our top five export destinations," said Armani. "We have kept a good relationship with the UK customs and we are aware of the problems going to be but believe it's going to be a controlled situation."
"We have a strong customers base in the UK and we have confidence that the UK still appreciates Italian wines," Armani said, adding "hopefully the sales will continue to be strong though Brexit will have some effect."
As the Brexit deal fails to win a majority support, all eyes are on the UK parliament's vote on alternative Brexit options on Wednesday evening. New uncertainties keep mounting as the scheduled Brexit day looms amid possibilities to delay into April, May or even longer.
"The current process is completely a waste of time," said Davis. "Tearing up Article 150 would be the best outcome for the public of the UK. With luck, we'll go back to the EU."