Members of the World Wine Trade Group (WWTG), including the United States, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, and Georgia, joined together to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Certification Requirements, which will help reduce barriers to international wine trade and support exporters of wine in each participating country. This MOU will facilitate trade in wine among these countries by encouraging the elimination of burdensome requirements and certifications of wine products and ingredients.

“The MOU signed today by these six World Wine Trade Group member countries is a key example of the kind of collaboration between trading partners that is essential to increase trade and support international growth in this global economy,” said United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “The production and sale of wine is a valued and robust industry in the United States and this MOU will help contribute to its continued growth and viability, while supporting much needed American jobs in these challenging economic times.”

In 2010, trade in wine and wine products between the United States and other World Wine Trade Group countries totaled $1.7 billion, including $300 million in U.S. exports and $1.4 billion in U.S. imports. That same year, World Wine Trade Group country-produced wine's share of the global wine export market increased from 15 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2010. On average each year, the wine industry contributes $121.8 billion in U.S. economic impact and supports 820,000 American jobs.

The MOU states that participating countries should not require certification related to vintage, varietal or regional claims for a wine unless they have legitimate concerns about such claims. If participants find certification to be necessary, the MOU encourages them to accept certificates issued by the official certification body or by an officially recognized certification body of the exporting country. The MOU seeks to reduce the need for routine certification requirements, while protecting the rights of each participant to require certification for health and safety reasons and does not affect members’ international rights or obligations. Likewise, the MOU does not affect labeling pre-approval, bioterrorism controls, or ad hoc testing by an importing country.

Background

Founded in 1998, the World Wine Trade Group is an informal group of government and industry representatives that share a mutual interest in facilitating international trade in wine and removing obstacles to that trade. Members of the World Wine Trade Group include the United States, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Georgia, Canada, and South Africa.

In addition to the MOU on Certification Requirements signed today, key World Wine Trade Group initiatives include the Mutual Acceptance Agreement on Oenological Practices (2001) and the Agreement on the Requirements for Wine Labeling (2007). The Mutual Acceptance Agreement determined that wine made in another participating country should be allowed to be sold in its market, despite differences in oenological practices. The Labeling Agreement enables wine exporters in signatory countries to sell wine into World Wine Trade Group markets without having to redesign their labels for each individual market.