Strong support from UK supermarkets has helped launch South Africa's Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association (WIETA), while the attitude of importers in other EU countries could damage the long-term success of such an initiative.

This body, launched yesterday, is the culmination of a four-year pilot Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), aimed at developing credible, cost effective ways of monitoring labour practices in the production of wine exported to the UK.

There has not only been buy-in by wineries in South Africa, but also from the country's biggest labour umbrella body, COSATU and the government.

Wines of South Africa Chairman, Dr Paul Cluver, said that whereas wine importers from the UK were enthusiastic about this initiative and the funding of it through money received from the EU Wine and Spirit Agreement signed earlier this year, the same could not be said for importers in Brussels.

He said for this to succeed it was necessary to look at ethics on both sides of the world not just South Africa. He feared that if they could not achieve in Europe what was done in the UK, then the whole effort could unravel.

It was accepted that not all wineries or grape producers would automatically comply with the standards set in the code, but that they would have to work towards it.

Failing this UK importers simply no longer source wines from wineries failing to adhere to the minimum recommended standards.