Jeffery Clarke, New Zealand Winegrowers
The idea of the WRF began in 2002 with the WWTG. WWTG participants saw the growth in the trade in wine throughout the Asia Pacific region. APEC countries were emerging as increasing important sites of both production and consumption.
Wine is a highly regulated product and consequently can be subject to technical barriers to trade. Very often these are unintended and simply a result of different regulatory histories or approaches. WWTG’s approach is that sharing knowledge and harmonizing technical rules can produce benefits for producer and consumer countries.
At Cape Town and Mendoza meetings in 2002, WWTG industry group encouraged govts to consider a pathfinder initiative within APEC based on the MAA.
From Mendoza statement:
“At the last meeting of the World Wine Trade Group held in Cape Town, the industry section requested that the APEC members of the World Wine Trade Group jointly present a 'pathfinder' initiative that embodies the concepts in the Mutual Acceptance Agreement on Oenological Practices (MAA OP) to the APEC Ministerial and Leaders' Meetings. It is critical that the World Wine Trade Group take a leading role in the development of sound wine policies and regulations in these markets. First, the MAA OP is not a set of winemaking standards but the winemaking regulations approved by each member country could be incorporated into a standard or similar arrangement, which could then be presented to the other APEC members for consideration as the pathfinder initiative. Such a production standard would enhance the international acceptability of wine produced in the Asia-Pacific region, while the adoption of the principles of the MAA OP would advance the free and open trade in wine, both within the region and internationally. This could provide a significant benefit to the emerging wine industries within these countries and provide an essential precursor for countries to sign onto the MAA OP. Second, by adopting the principles in the MAA OP, particularly those in Articles 5 and 6, a trading standard for wine would eventually be established and negotiations on labeling within APEC could be opened up. It would seem to have a mutual benefit for both producer and consumer countries to sign up to the MAA OP. Third, we could use the initiative to establish mutual recognition arrangements between certification and testing bodies for wine to reduce non-tariff barriers and facilitate trade. The industry section of the World Wine Trade Group has formed a working group to establish a basis for mutual cooperation for the governments to present to APEC member governments. The working group will present its initial findings to the industry sector of the World Wine Trade Group at the first meeting in 2003.”