TBILISI, GEORGIA - The World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) governments formally agreed this week to a groundbreaking set of international principles for nations to use when establishing wine regulations.
The "Statement on Analytical Methodology and Regulatory Limits" was adopted to remove unnecessary obstacles to international wine exports. The principles, finalized at the trade group's annual meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia on Aug. 25-26, were proposed to address a continuing pattern of wine trade barriers. Many countries establish unnecessary rules which delay and add to winery costs, resulting in restricted market access and trade.
The World Wine Trade Group is comprised of government and trade representatives with a mutual interest in facilitating international trade in wine. Its members are from the major wine producing countries of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Georgia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. In addition, Brazil, China and Moldova participated as Observers at the 2014 meeting, which was hosted by the Georgian government and industry.
Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, Wine Institute President and CEO, called the Tbilisi Statement "an important step forward in bringing regulatory coherence in the international wine trade."
The first of the 11 WWTG principles states "Governments should establish regulatory limits that are based on risk, thereby avoiding unnecessary analysis." The establishment of limits for components in wine is necessary in many cases to provide governments with assurance surrounding the quality and safety of wines in international trade. However, every analytical test performed on a wine has cost implications for the producer and the multiplication of unnecessary tests can serve to increase the cost of doing business in a given market, eroding margins to a point where it is no longer feasible to conduct trade.
Examples of unnecessary wine trade limits include: 1) establishment of pesticide maximum residue limits for wine when they are already established and effectively controlled at the level of the raw material, grapes; 2) setting specifications for pathogenic microorganisms for wine, which are not present in wine; and 3) setting a limit at a level much higher than quantities ever seen in wines around the world, and requiring costly confirmatory analyses when no products will fail to comply.
In addition to WWTG, the regulatory principles are being advanced in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Wine Regulatory Forum.
In its Vision Statement, WWTG advocates for "a successful, competitive and growing global wine industry, characterized by social responsibility, sustainability and focus on consumer interests, operating in a climate free of trade-distorting factors." WWTG countries accounted for 29% of the global wine trade and 29% of wine exports in 2013. For more information, visit http://ita.doc.gov/td/ocg/wwtg.htm and http://www.wwtg-gmcv.org.
World Wine Trade Group Tbilisi Statement on Analytical Methodology and Regulatory Limits (agreed to on Aug. 26, 2014)
World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) governments support the need to establish and enforce regulations both to ensure product safety and to ensure that products meet relevant standards relating to the production, composition, and identity of wine in a manner consistent with the rights and obligations established under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements.
Accordingly, the WWTG endorses the following principles relating to analytical methodology and regulatory limits on constituents and potential contaminants in wine.
- Avoiding unnecessary analyses. Governments should establish regulatory limits that are based on risk, thereby avoiding unnecessary analysis.
- Relevant standards. In addition to considering relevant standards from international standards setting bodies, in the context of a country's WTO obligations, governments should also consider work done by WWTG participants when establishing new regulatory limits.
- Regulatory cooperation. Governments should seek cooperation in approaches to regulatory limits where it is feasible to do so and where there is no scientific or other legitimate justification for national or regional differences. Cooperation may be achieved by various means, including but not limited to the adoption of precisely the same provisions, mutual acceptance of provisions, or establishment of appropriate tolerances.
- Common systems of units. Governments should, where feasible and appropriate, adopt a common system of scientific units for expressing regulatory limits relating to wine.
- Expression of regulatory limits. Governments should express regulatory limits relating to wine on a "per unit volume of wine" basis rather than a "per unit volume of alcohol" basis.
- Harmonization of results expressions. Governments should adopt a common way of expressing analytical results in their rules, regulations, and requirements, where this is done in relation to a single wine constituent, e.g., for total acidity.
- Analytical levels. When governments implement limits for analytical levels in relation to wine, they should specify the method by which compliance with those limits is confirmed, and should make those limits and methods publicly available.
- Accreditation. Governments should ensure that the analyses of wine that they require to demonstrate compliance with regulatory limits are undertaken by accredited laboratories complying with international standards (or overseen by certified analysts).
- Validation of analytical methods. Governments should ensure that, for wine compliance purposes, laboratories use analytical methods that are validated for wine analyses, and that the laboratories are proficient in the use of those methods.
- Authentic samples. Where wine authentication is deemed essential to prevent counterfeit or misleading practices, governments should compare test samples against a sufficiently comprehensive database of authentic samples to avoid miscategorizing legitimate samples as fraudulent.
- Measurement uncertainty. Governments should ensure that laboratories provide information on measurement uncertainty regarding their analytical results. Governments should take into account such measurement uncertainty information when interpreting analytical results.