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New Agreement Seeks to Lower Barriers to International Trade in Wine

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The U.S. and five other countries signed a memorandum of understanding last week that aims to reduce barriers to international wine trade. Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and Georgia joined the U.S. in signing the MOU, which states that participants should not require certification related to vintage, varietal or regional claims for a wine unless they have legitimate concerns about such claims. If participants find such certification to be necessary, they are encouraged to accept certificates issued by the official certification body or an officially recognized certification body of the exporting country. The MOU thus seeks to reduce the need for routine certification requirements while protecting the rights of each participant to require certification for health and safety reasons. Likewise, the MOU does not affect labeling pre-approval, bioterrorism controls or ad hoc testing by an importing country.

A press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative states that in 2010 trade in wine and wine products between the U.S. and other World Wine Trade Group countries (the six countries named above plus Canada and South Africa) totaled $1.7 billion, including $300 million in U.S. exports and $1.4 billion in U.S. imports. That same year, WWTG country-produced wine’s share of the global wine export market rose to 30%, up from 15% a decade earlier. On average each year, the wine industry contributes $121.8 billion in U.S. economic impact and supports 820,000 domestic jobs.

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