By Andrew Starke

Premier Australian wine bodies have hailed a ‘new era of cooperation between Australia and the European Union (EU)’ as a new deal comes into effect this month (September).

The Australia–European Community Agreement on Trade in Wine protects Australian winemakers’ access to the EU, Australia’s largest export market.

The relationship is worth $863 million to the Australian wine industry, with more than 380,000 million litres exported in 2009/10.

The agreement negotiated by the Australian Government guarantees and improves access for Australian wine producers to the highly competitive European market.

The Australian wine sector was represented during negotiations by the Australian Wine & Brandy Corporation (AWBC) and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA).

According to the industry bodies, Australian wine producers and exporters will see significant advantages as a result of the agreement, with nearly all Australian winemaking techniques now accepted by the EU, as well as a range of simpler requirements covering everything from labelling and blending to alcohol levels and the display of Australian awards on labels.

AWBC general manager compliance and trade, Steve Guy, said Australian wine producers would soon experience the benefits of the agreement, as they would be required to make fewer changes and concessions to sell their wine in the EU.

“It will also ensure Australia’s international wine reputation is protected as it will reassure consumers, trade and international regulatory authorities that they can rely on the provenance claims made on behalf of Australian wine,” he said.

“The changes will come into place via amendments to the AWBC Act and are the final chapter in the long-standing negotiations between the Australian wine industry and the EU, which date back to 1993.”

However there will still be 11 geographical indications (GIs) that will not be permitted to describe Australian wine: Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne, Graves, Manzanilla, Marsala, Moselle, Port, Sauterne, Sherry and White Burgundy.

Wholesalers will have three years to sell stock labelled with these GIs.

Guy said the AWBC and WFA had worked closely with the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry during negotiation of the agreement.

“One of our primary objectives is to facilitate the free trade of Australian wine and this agreement is vital in achieving this,” he said.

“There have been significant concessions from both sides and we are confident the Australian wine industry can only benefit from these changes, which come into effect tomorrow.”

To find out more about the changes, click here.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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