CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA July 10, 2002 - The World Wine Trade Group (WWTG), formerly called the New World Wine Producers, recently welcomed news from the Government of Argentina announcing that it had decided to formally sign the Mutual Acceptance Agreement (MAA) on enological practices. Those countries that have already signed the MAA have agreed to mutually accept the winemaking practices of the other parties to the agreement. The current signatory countries are: Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand and the United States of America. South Africa is in the process of finalizing its decision on formal signature to the MAA.
"We will be very pleased to welcome Argentina to the agreement and look forward to adding South Africa and other wine producing countries in South America," says Joseph P. Rollo, international director of the San Francisco-based Wine Institute.
News of Argentina's intention was announced at the WWTG meeting in Cape Town on July 1-3, held to address trends and policy developments in global wine trade. Sixty senior government and wine industry delegates from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA attended the meeting hosted by South Africa. Representatives from Brazil and Uruguay attended as observers. Attending the WWTG meeting from the USA were: Joseph Rollo of Wine Institute; Karen Ross of the California Association of Winegrape Growers; James Finkle, Constellation Brands; Terry Lee, E. & J. Gallo Winery; Robert Kalik, Kalik Lewin Law Offices; and James Clawson and Jeannie Boone of JBC International.
Under the MAA, each signing country will permit the importation of wines from every other signatory country as long as these wines are made in accordance with the producing country's domestic laws, regulations and requirements on enological practices. The agreement recognizes that different countries use different winemaking practices due to local conditions, climatic variations and traditions, and that grapegrowing and winemaking practices are constantly evolving. These practices have been used as reasons to prevent market access and obstruct international wine trade. The U.S. already allows wine imports if they meet the standards of the country of origin, but this agreement ensures that participating trade partners give U.S. wines the same conditions. The signatories believe that, for countries with strong mechanisms in place to regulate winemaking, mutual acceptance is the optimal way to promote wine trade.
The decision to change the group's name to World Wine Trade Group reflects the focus on facilitating wine trade. In pursuing its objective of removing unnecessary trade restrictions, the WWTG also discussed elements of a labeling agreement that would benefit consumers by simplifying export labeling. It was agreed that the technical working group would continue this work and present a draft at the next meeting.
The WWTG expressed concern over the new European Union (EU) wine labeling regulation that may negatively impact on wine exports to the EU. WWTG members raised concerns over the consistency of the new regulation with the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
The next meeting of the WWTG will be held in the Argentine Republic later this year.
The U.S. is the fourth largest wine market for imported wine in the world, and is the fourth leading producer of wine worldwide. Accounting for a five percent share of the world export market, the U.S. exported $541 million in 2001. Of this, wine exports to Canada were $95 million; Australia, $972,000; New Zealand, $157,000; Chile, $343,000; and Argentina, $353,000.