APEC vows to tackle Asia-Pacific wine trade red tape

18th February 2014

MGI World APEC vows to tackle Asia-Pacific wine trade red tape

Trade barriers in Asia and Australasia are being brought down to free up the region’s wine market. APEC - the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation body - is taking measures to cut red tape affecting the wine trade, which has tripled in value from $7 billion in 2000 to $23 billion in 2012.

In a statement to APEC, Tom LaFaille, vice president and international trade counsel of the Wine Institute, a US industry association, said “unnecessary trade barriers” have increased in the region as the market has expanded.

Additional testing and the requirement of “duplicative and burdensome export certificates” are the biggest concern, says APEC.

Non-tariff barriers are estimated to cost businesses, especially small and medium-sized wine producers, approximately $1 billion a year, according to Wade Armstrong, head of the New Zealand delegation to the World Wine Trade Group, which has been involved in the APEC Wine Regulatory Forum, the group leading the efforts to cut red tape.

Many of the countries importing wine, such as China and other emerging economic powerhouses, are relatively new to the wine trade and their regulations reflect a “lack of technical knowledge” about the specifics of the industry.

Standardisation of regulations is seen as key. In one case a New Zealand wine producer used a widely-permitted additive that the importing nation did not recognise in its regulations. In this instance, the producer chose not to export in order to avoid the risk of non-compliance.

To achieve greater harmonisation, APEC has established an Export Certificate Working Group and is collaborating with various government regulators on how to consolidate the certificate process across the APEC region.

“The APEC Wine Regulatory Forum is specifically working on eliminating export certificates where unnecessary, promoting electronic submission and developing a model wine certificate,” said Theresa McCarthy from the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is also part of the APEC Forum.   

Already progress has been noted. For example, Chile is exploring a scheme for electronic submission of export certificates, while the US and China have agreed on a consolidated wine export certificate.

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