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New labelling agreement will save Australian wine producers 'tens of millions of dollars'

The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation has welcomed the signing of the World Wine Trade Group’s Agreement on Requirements for Wine Labelling, which has the potential to save Australian producers tens of millions of dollars a year.

Corporation Chief Executive Sam Tolley said the agreement involving the World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) – representing producers from Australia, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina – is an “historic step forward” for the global wine industry and would deliver significant benefits for Australian wine producers. Bringing the agreement into force will include tabling in the Parliament and adjusting domestic labelling requirements for wine. An amendment to the States’ and Territories’ wine labelling regulations also will be required to implement the agreement.

“Until now, Australian wine producers had differing label requirements when exporting wine to other signatory countries in the World Wine Trade Group. This often resulted in unnecessarily expensive printing costs to meet the labelling requirements of so many different markets,” Mr Tolley said.

“The new labelling agreement, announced overnight in Canberra, has the potential to save Australian wine producers tens of millions of dollars a year in label printing costs as one common label is now permitted for wine sold in Australia, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina. The agreement stipulates the presentation of certain information on wine labels such as product designation, content volume, percentage of alcohol and country of origin,” Mr Tolley said.

The Australian wine sector estimates the change is expected to produce savings of around $25 million per year.

The Corporation’s General Manager, Trade and Compliance, Steve Guy, said the new agreement was very significant as the United States, Canada and New Zealand, in particular, were major export markets for Australian wine. Exports to WWTG member nations account for 47 per cent ($1.2 billion) of Australia's annual wine exports. According to the Corporation’s most recent export figures, for the 12 months to December 2006, the United States was Australia’s second largest wine export market (behind the UK) worth $923.6m, Canada was third at $244.4m and New Zealand was fourth at $92.1m.

“Member countries in the World Wine Trade Group first began discussions five years ago on how best to develop a common approach to displaying mandatory information required on wine labels,” Mr Guy said. “The agreement is a major step forward but it’s important to note that it doesn’t mean that all legitimate domestic labels are automatically acceptable in the signatory markets. The agreement provides a mechanism to design a common label.”

Mr Guy said while the new labelling agreement would not have a direct impact on wine exported to the European Union (a market worth over $1 billion to Australian wine exporters), the new regulations were “consistent” with EU labelling requirements. “This has the potential to deliver further savings for Australian wine producers,” said Mr Guy.

The Corporation is the federal statutory authority responsible for regulating Australian wine exports, the global Wine Australia marketing program, collating and analysing Australian wine sector statistics, assisting Australian wine producers and exporters with trade access issues, and defining and protecting Australia’s wine regions.

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