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International Issues & Activities - February 2018

A busy end to 2017 has continued in 2018. Here is a wrap up by market on major occurrences in wine trade and market access on our agenda in recent months.

 

Canada – As you will have seen in recent media, the Australian Government has launched a new trade enforcement action related to wine (WT/DS537/1 G/L/1209) against Canada at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The Australian action will address the same concerns lodged by the US trade action earlier in 2017 regarding discriminatory regulations, which restrict trade of foreign wines in retail outlets in British Colombia. In addition, the Australian challenge will also address regulations considered discriminatory in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia. WFA is working closely with the Trade Minister and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and we are pleased this action has been taken. Further information is available at the WFA website here.


Vietnam
– Since the introduction of new regulations in 2015, which limited the use of most common wine additives and processing aids, Australian companies have faced some major barriers in Vietnam. In 2016, WFA provided the Vietnam Food Administration (VFA) with applications seeking permission for the use of a number of common wine processing aids and additives, in line with Australia Standard 4.5.1. On 18 January 2018, WFA received the outcome of the VFA’s assessment of our application. The VFA has approved the use of all Australian processing aids in line with our regulations as well as the use of 17 common wine additives. Gape juice (including concentrate) has also been approved as a “food ingredient”, in line with Australia’s regulations. This is great news for Australian wine exporters to Vietnam.  These approvals will allow for greater ease of access through acceptance of the additives and processing aids in wine which are used in Australia. For more information regarding changes to export compliance requirements, contact Wine Australia.


Australia
  - On 24 January 2018, the Australian Government announced the impending signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), to be finalised by March 2018.  The CPTPP is the revised version of the original Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the United States of America (USA) withdrew from in January 2017. Since the USA's withdrawal, the remaining parties lead by Japan and Australia have sought to ensure an outcome for its remaining 11 participants. Further details on the CPTPP benefits for Australian wine can be found in the WFA Media Release's here.

Australia-European Union (EU) Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations commence in early 2018 and amongst the biggest issues for the wine industry, are EU Geographical Indication protection in Australia (specifically Prosecco) and EU wine Tariffs.  


Brexit
- WFA has provided a Submission to the UK House of Commons, International Trade Committee Inquiry into the UK’s trade relationship with Australia and New Zealand. Key aspects of our submission include removal of wine tariffs, ensuring minimal disruption to trade and treatment of wine re-exported through the UK to greater Europe.


Nero d’Avola
– In order to protect our producers rights to the use of the grape variety “Nero d’Avola” WFA has submitted around 40 pages of evidence to IP Australia supporting our objection to the EU registering of the term “Avola” as a European GI in Australia. We are expecting to hold facilitated discussions with the EU in early 2018.


Thailand
– In late 2017 we received reports from a number of industry sources including Australian producers, USA, New Zealand and Europe, that wine producers were being asked to comply with new certificate of analysis requirements in Thailand. The certificate would reportedly be requested for customs clearance on each specific wine product and vintage entering the Thai market. The new certificate of analysis requirements include analytical requirements not commonly sought by any other international wine markets which may be costly. Wine Australia have sought clarification through Thai APEC contacts, the Australian and Thailand Governments. We are working with Wine Australia to try to minimise the impact of these changes on Australian producers, but exporters should be aware that Thailand has reportedly included a transition period for adoption which is due to end on 16 March 2018. For more information regarding changes to export compliance requirement contact Wine Australia.


Japan  - On 8 December 2017 the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement was finalised. This agreement will considerably improve the market access of European wine exports to Japan, as the tariffs on wine will be fully eliminated on entry into force. The agreement also contains provisions for the protection of 205 EU GIs.  WFA opposed the registration of a number of terms including “Prosecco”, “Montepulciano” and “Alicante”. The Australian Government has recently advised that our objection was dismissed by the Japanese National Tax Agency (NTA), due to a lack of Australian labelled product using these terms already available in the Japanese market. Despite this, we are seeking further clarification from the NTA on the precise implications for labelling of Australian products with these grape verities in Japan.  

The EU has also negotiated the approval of 28 EU additives and processing aids used in winemaking within five years. It is expected that the approval of these additives and processing aids for EU will also provide an avenue for their approval for other countries. WFA has been working through the extensive approvals process for additives in Japan for several years. 


Ireland – On 15 December 2017 drastic measures were introduced through Irelands' Senate in the form of a revised Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.  The Bill will introduce a number of restrictive regulations, which, if adopted will negatively impact on alcoholic beverage industry in Ireland. Key features of the proposed Bill of concern for alcohol include:

  • The introduction of a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol (which would be the equivalent of 1 euro for an Australian standard drink.
  • Health warning labels on all alcoholic beverage containers, of a form prescribed by the (Health) Minister. It is suggested that this is likely to include cancer warnings covering 30% of the label.
  • The banning of consumer (but not trade) publications where more than 20% of the advertising content is for alcoholic beverages.
  • Severe advertising restrictions. The wording in the Bill is vague but The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) claims that effectively all existing alcohol advertisements would be banned under these provisions.
  • “Structural separation”. Off-licenses must store alcohol and offer it for sale only in a section of the premises totally separate from any other goods. The public must not be expected to pass through this section to access any other goods.
  • Restriction on any multi-buy discounts, wine club deals and special offers.

The Bill has been through the Upper House, where several amendments were made and is due to go to the Lower House in February 2018.


Scotland - Minimum Unit Price for Alcohol is also being implemented in Scotland after the UK Supreme Court ruled in late 2017 that the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012, which allows the Scottish Ministers to introduce a system of Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol, did not contravene EU law. The Scottish Government plans to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol on 1 May 2018

 

For further information, please contact: 

DAMIEN GRIFFANTE
Manager, Policy and Market Access

Winemakers’ Federation of Australia
National Wine Centre, Botanic Road, Adelaide, SA 5000
PO Box 2414, Kent Town SA 5071

Telephone: +61 8 8133 4308

Email: damien@wfa.org.au