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U.S., EU reach agreement on wine trade

U.S., EU reach agreement on wine trade

   The United States and European Union have reached an agreement on winemaking practices and labeling, which is aimed at improving bilateral trade of wine.

   “This agreement is a win-win situation for U.S. and EU winemakers, helping establish predictable conditions for bilateral wine trade,” said U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, in a statement Thursday.

   The agreement provides for:

   * Recognition of existing winemaking practices.

   * A consultative process for accepting new winemaking practices.

   * The United States limiting the use of certain “semi-generic” terms in the U.S. market.

   * The EU allowing under specified conditions for the use of certain regulated terms on U.S. wine exported to the EU.

   * Recognizing certain names of origin in each other’s market.

   * Simplifying certification requirements.

   * Defining parameters for optional labeling elements of U.S. wines sold in the EU market.

   The agreement does not address the use of “geographical locations,” a form of intellectual property. The agreement also provides for a second phase of negotiations to address other outstanding U.S.-EU wine trade issues.

   Since 1983, the EU has been renewing short-term derogations from its regulations for U.S. wine made using practices not recognized by the EU. The temporary nature of these derogations created continuous uncertainty for U.S. wine exporters, the USTR said.

   U.S. exports of wine worldwide and to the European Community have increased steadily in recent years. In 2004, global U.S. wine exports exceeded $736 million, with exports to the European Community over $487 million. Total U.S. imports of wine from other countries in 2004 were nearly $3.4 billion, and U.S. imports from the European Community exceeded $2.3 billion.

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