APEC Initiative

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APEC Wine Regulatory Forum 

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the premier Pacific Rim economic forum made up of 21 nations, supports sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the region. Within APEC, the Wine Regulatory Forum (WRF) of government officials and stakeholders is dedicated to regulatory cooperation and facilitation of the wine trade.

The WRF originated in 2002, when WWTG members recognized the potential trade facilitation benefits of collaborating with APEC regulators.

Though the region’s wine trade has increased steadily, so too have unnecessary trade barriers. (These wine-related non-tariff barriers reportedly cost APEC economies and businesses a combined total of $1 billion/year.) WWTG members believe that eliminating burdensome and duplicative requirements in the APEC region will reduce the government costs of cross-border wine trade, stimulate demand, and increase sales, particularly for small and midsize enterprises.

To address this problem, in 2008 in Peru, APEC’s Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance (SCSC) endorsed the establishment of the Wine Regulatory Forum with the goals of:

  • Examining options to simplify and harmonize wine regulation across the APEC region, reduce technical barriers to trade and protect consumers; and
  • Sharing information and building capacity in wine regulation across the APEC region.

Once formed, the WRF developed an ambitious, multi-year Implementation Plan, which has resulted now in three major regulator conferences:

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2011 - “Seminar in Key Issues in Wine Regulation” (San Francisco/Livermore, California, U.S.A.)

The inaugural WRF meeting, in September 2011, was attended by more than 100 government officials and international wine industry representatives, who explored opportunities to reduce unnecessary impediments to trade, including streamlining regulatory import-export requirements. The regulators shared best practices on wine certification, analysis, winemaking practices and labeling in the APEC region.

The two-day meeting, hosted by the U.S. and co-sponsored by Australia, Chile, New Zealand and Peru, included delegations from Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.  The meeting was an important step for government officials from throughout the region to build confidence in each other’s regulatory systems and to work with industry to eliminate unreasonable and duplicative requirements. For more information, see the press release for this event. The presentations for this event are also available online.

Left to Right: Michael Moore, New Zealand Ambassador to the U.S.; Sirma Karapeeva, New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries; Julia Doherty, Senior Director, U.S. Office of Trade Representative and 2012 APEC Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance chair; and Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute.

Left to Right: Michael Moore, New Zealand Ambassador to the U.S.; Sirma Karapeeva, New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries; Julia Doherty, Senior Director, U.S. Office of Trade Representative and 2012 APEC Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance chair; and Robert P. (Bobby) Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute.

2012 – “Dialogue on Risk Management in Wine Trade” (Auckland, New Zealand)

In November 2012, New Zealand hosted the second WRF meeting, with more than 60 regulators and wine industry representatives from 16 Asia-Pacific economies participating. The Dialogue focused on two key themes: wine trade and its risks; and coordinating approaches to certification.  Economies gained a greater understanding of wine as a low risk product from a food safety perspective, calling into question the value of and need for multiple certification requirements based upon relatively few risk factors. Among the key points discussed were:

  • Furthering work on regulatory alignment to reduce multiple and overlapping certification requirements
  • The importance of a focus on appropriate risk management, given the low risk profile of wine in terms of food safety
  • The value of international standards setting bodies in supporting international collaboration and trade efforts
  • Ways of supporting collaboration between industries and regulators across the region.

WRF members agreed to strengthen the implementation of good regulatory practices throughout the APEC region in support of Regulatory Coherence, International Standards and Collaboration and Information Sharing. For more information, see the press release for this event. The presentations are also available online.

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2013 - “2013 Technical Forum” (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.) 

More than 140 government officials and stakeholders from 20 economies convened at the Wine Regulatory Forum's 2013 Technical Workshop on November 4-6, 2013 in Washington, D.C. to share good regulatory practices on wine certification, analysis, and winemaking practices in the growing trade region. The international conference, to continue efforts to expand Pacific Rim wine trade by streamlining regulatory import-export requirements, was hosted by USA and co-sponsored by Australia, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia and Vietnam. Participants also represented Argentina, Brazil, China, Georgia, India, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay.
Regulators toured the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau's Beverage Alcohol Laboratory and met with the World Wine Trade Group Regulators Forum to discuss measures designed to ensure consumer safety and encourage trade. Regulators agreed to work towards a series of future steps to facilitate trade:

  1. Reduce and potentially eliminate unnecessary export certificates; 
  2. Develop a compendium of each country's export certificate, pesticide, labeling and winemaking requirements; 
  3. Enhance wine laboratory testing capabilities and technical exchanges to ensure that regulatory authorities have the capacity to assess risk and to use sound science in regulating wine; 
  4. Cooperate on pesticide maximum residue limits (MRLs); and 
  5. Conduct technical discussions in China in 2014 to ensure continued progress.

The Workshop was part of a new U.S. sponsored, five-year project (2013-2018) that responds to APEC leaders' call for improved regulation.

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2014 - “2014 Wine Regulatory Forum” (Beijing, China) 

The fourth meeting of the WRF was held on September 11-12, in Beijing with government officials and industry representatives from sixteen member economies in attendance.  APEC economies, through the WRF, continued to acknowledge that wine is a low risk food product and that testing requirements should be risk-based, fit for purpose, and kept to a minimum to encourage trade.

Participants identified the following actions to be initiated before the next meeting of the forum expected to be held in November 2015 in Australia:

Reduction in Export Certificates A template for an APEC wine export certificate for use in economies where certification is required will be drafted based on the model provided by Codex Alimentarius. The objective will be to design a certificate which includes no requirement for chemical analysis.

Enhanced Risk Controls Members will establish a ring test program open to laboratories from all APEC economies, to promote consistency and accuracy of analytical testing of key wine parameters: alcohol, sugar, sulphites and possibly metals. Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) Members will identify a priority lists of pesticides for which Codex MRLs may be developed.

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Future WRF Work

The WRF is building on the recommendations from these meetings to assist developing economies to implement specific, measurable good regulatory practices. Through hands-on annual technical assistance activities hosted by member economies, WRF will continue to enhance the capacity and knowledge of regulators to increase their ability to efficiently protect the health and safety of consumers and facilitate trade in the APEC region.

On 8 November 2014 in Beijing, APEC Ministers recognized the work of the WRF in a joint statement detailing new actions for deepening the Asia-Pacific partnership to navigate the changing regional and global landscape and boost economic recovery. The Ministers declared in part, "To increase wine production, to expand trade, and to create jobs in the region, we commit to eliminating unnecessary export certification for wine by 2018 and instruct officials to advance this work."

About APEC

APEC was established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional economic blocs in other parts of the world. It fosters growth and prosperity by facilitating economic cooperation and expanding trade and investment throughout the region. APEC’s member economies today account for 55% of global gross domestic product and 44% of world trade, and comprise a market of 2.7 billion consumers. For more information, see the APEC website.

Related Press Coverage

January 24, 2014

"APEC Wine Regulatory Forum tackles growing barriers to wine trade

In a trendy corner of Beijing’s Chaoyang district, a crowd of professionals share a wine-tasting menu sampling Cabernets from Australia, Chile, New Zealand and the United States. These wine bars, a growing trend in Asia, are gaining ground in China. Chinese consumers increasingly want the quality and diversity of their wine-tasting experiences abroad, causing wine imports to skyrocket.

The value of the APEC wine trade has tripled

'The value of the APEC region wine trade has tripled, increasing from just USD 7 billion in 2000 to USD 23 billion in 2012,' said Tom LaFaille, Vice President and International Trade Counsel of the Wine Institute, an industry association in the United States.

In China alone, wine consumption has doubled twice in the last five years and the economy is expected to be the largest wine consumer by 2016.

'However, although the Pacific Rim region’s wine trade has increased steadily, so too have unnecessary trade barriers,' added Mr LaFaille.

The APEC Wine Regulatory Forum was formed in 2008 as part of the APEC Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance to help eliminate some of these trade barriers for wine exporters. The Forum is focused on reducing the cost of cross-border wine trade to stimulate demand and sales, particularly for small and medium wine producers, who make up the bulk of the regional wine industry. Ultimately, minimizing these costs will lead to cheaper prices and more choices for wine consumers in the Asia-Pacific...

By striking a balance between regulating safe and truthful products with efficient and cost-effective administration, the APEC Wine Regulatory Forum is facilitating trade and boosting export sales of small and medium wine producers across the region. As more wine connoisseurs in the Asia-Pacific desire diverse and quality wines, the APEC Wine Regulatory Forum is making it easier for a savvy wine-taster in Beijing to enjoy a glass of Cabernet from small boutique vineyards in Margaret River, Colchagua, Marlborough, and Napa Valley."

For the full text of the article above, please refer here

January 26, 2014

"Red Tape Costs Asia-Pacific Wine Trade $1 Billion a Year

Bureaucracy is costing the Asia Pacific's wine industry $1.0 billion annually, APEC said Friday, as it vowed to simplify the procedures to take advantage of growing demand in the region.

A complex web of non-tariff barriers such as multiple export certificates and unnecessary testing is hampering the industry's growth, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping said in a statement."

For the full text of the article above, please refer here.