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The World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) is an informal group of government and industry representatives from the wine-producing countries of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Georgia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.  Founded in 1998, the Group aims to facilitate international trade in wine through information sharing, discussion of regulatory issues in wine markets, and joint actions for the removal of trade barriers. The WWTG has negotiated three agreements and one MOU that promote international wine trade.

The Group is guided by principles that facilitate trade in wine and protect consumers, benefiting both wine exporting and importing countries. The WWTG recognizes the unique characteristics of each regulatory system and works towards the mutual acceptance of practices and labelling rather than imposing a single regulatory approach.  

The WWTG also provides an invaluable platform for sharing intelligence and coordinating positions regarding obstacles to trade. Usual issue topics include: trends in wine production, consumption and trade; developments in wine regulation and labelling, intellectual property and sustainability issues; changing viti-vinicultural practices; bilateral and regional trade negotiations; and wine issues in multilateral fora such as the Codex Alimentarius, OIV, and the WTO.

The WWTG generally meets twice a year with one annual and one intersessional meeting. Non-member countries and industry organizations are encouraged to participate in the meetings as observers.  National governments or members of the World Trade Organization interested in furthering WWTG goals are welcome.  

Guidelines for Participation in English and Spanish.

 

World Wine Trade Group Agreements

 

The 2001 Agreement on Mutual Acceptance of Oenological Practices (MAA)

The MAA recognises that each WWTG member has established acceptable mechanisms for regulating wine-making practices, and in turn agrees to accept the wine-making practices of all other Parties. It is intended to facilitate trade in wine, and to avoid the imposition of obstacles to such trade, through Parties permitting the importation of wine produced in another Party that is produced in accordance with that other Party’s laws, regulations and requirements related to oenological practices and the mechanism to regulate them. 

The MAA is not a single set of wine-making standards. Rather, it provides for mutual recognition of oenological practices approved by each Party.  This also enhances the international acceptability of wine produced in WWTG countries. Adoption of the principles of the MAA by additional countries would facilitate trade in wine, both within the region and internationally. This could provide a significant benefit both to emerging wine industries and consumers within these countries. 

The MAA benefits winemakers, exporters and importers by assuring them access to markets without the costs and frustrations of trade barriers based on differences in wine-making practices.

 

The 2007 Agreement on Requirements for Wine Labelling (Labelling Agreement)

The Labelling Agreement enables wine exporters to sell wine into WWTG markets without having to redesign all of their labels for each individual market. Under the Labelling Agreement, the WWTG participants have agreed to a ”single field of vision” approach to wine labelling, whereby four key common items of information (country of origin, product name, net contents, and alcohol content)  are deemed to comply with domestic labelling requirements if they are presented together in any single field of vision on the container.  In early 2013 phase two of the Labelling Agreement was concluded through the Protocol to the Agreement on Requirements for Wine Labelling. This extends the earlier Agreement on Labelling by providing for a degree of harmonisation of rules regarding alcohol tolerance, variety, wine region and vintage.

The Labelling Agreement means that consumers are able to easily locate important items of information on the bottle in a single field of vision allowing ease in the comparison of different wines.   In addition, the Agreement benefits producers and suppliers by reducing the costs of production, application, warehousing, and label usage. Gains can be made from economies of scale, and savings achieved from label printing costs, and production line costs (because of fewer stoppages). 

These principles set a positive benchmark in wine labelling, promoting clarity and consistency in information shown across different markets. These principles could provide the basis for a global standard if adopted by sufficient international bodies and countries – given that Codex Alimentarius Commission does not have an international standard for wine labelling.

 

The 2011 Memorandum of Understanding on Certification Requirements

Many countries require certification of compositional requirements for wine,  which can act as an unnecessary barrier to trade, particularly when they do not relate to a health or safety issue in relation to wine, or when the exporting country already has adequate systems in place to address such issues.

Noting that the MAA already provided that routine certification should not be required between parties for oenological practices, this same approach was extended with the Certification MOU to compositional aspects of wine that are not defined as oenological practices.

The Certification MOU facilitates international trade in wine, by providing that routine certification of wine composition should not be required other than on health and safety grounds consistent with WTO rules, as well as requiring that any certification must be in line with Codex standards.

 

The 2013 Protocol to the 2007 WWTG Agreement on Requirements for Wine Labelling

 

WWTG Government Statements

Tbilisi Statement On Analytical Methodology and Regulatory Limits on Constituents and Potential Contaminants in Wine  (2014)

Auckland Statement on Sustainability Labelling (2012)

 

Related Links

World Wine Trade Group Industry Website

WWTG Pesticide MRL Matrix (updated August 2013)

WWTG Government Contacts

2014 WWTG Viticulture Report

 

This website is housed at the US Department of Commerce. Questions should be directed to Jamie.Ferman@trade.gov 11-12-14