SAN FRANCISCO — Wine Institute, the San Francisco-based association of California wineries, expressed strong support today for recent USTR action requesting World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement consultations with India, with the goal of reducing India's prohibitive duties on U.S. wine and distilled spirits.
India imposes several layers of additional duties on imports of wine and distilled spirits on top of its basic customs duties, resulting in total duties in the range of 150 to 550 percent despite its WTO commitment that tariffs would not exceed 150 percent. The European Community similarly requested WTO action on the issue last year.
U.S. wine exports, 95 percent from California, reached $674 million in 2005 and have more than doubled in the past 10 years, fueled by growth in both established and emerging wine markets. With a growing middle class, India is considered an important emerging market for U.S. wine, although high duties have suppressed sales there to date. In 2005, U.S. wine exports to India were $376,000. The U.S. is the sixth leading wine exporter in the world by volume.
The Wine Institute is the association of more than 1000 California wineries and affiliated businesses dedicated to initiating and advocating state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible consumption and enjoyment of wine. Through its international trade barriers program, the organization seeks greater access for California wine in all important markets. Wine Institute's membership, which includes small, medium and large wineries, accounts for about 95 percent of California's wine production and 85 percent of U.S. wine.