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Published:  23 July, 2008

The outgoing president of the Wine & Spirit Association (WSA) has applauded the way the five regional wine and spirit associations are working closer together than ever before. Tom Yusef, at the end of his two-year presidency, was speaking at the annual regional chairmen's conference, which was held during the London International Wine & Spirits Fair last month. Yusef felt that the national and regional associations were now more focused on common issues. In terms of recruitment and membership, the respective benefits of national and regional membership have been promoted by linking the two in a package. Assistance and support for regional members have been achieved via lobbying by the WSA's Parliamentary Wine Club and EFWSID (the European Importers Group), and progress has been made on reducing burdens on small firms. In education, the WSA has provided a channel for regional members to better communicate with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMOW). And in terms of communication, the WSA has agreed to provide regional newsletters and diaries via its database, thus eliminating duplication and improving the flow of information. The conference considered future challenges, including improving links between the different associations' websites and greater co-ordination between the WSA, the WSET, the Wine & Spirit Benevolent Society, the IMOW and the Wine Standards Board when dealing with the regions. It was also agreed that the feasibility of setting up a new regional association in the southeast should be investigated.