Importers of South African wine are forging ahead with a unique plan that could see the recent EU-SA wine agreement producing its first tangible results with pledges, which are expected to realise about £1.2m.

In terms of the EU-SA agreement, South African wine exporters are able to export 42 million litres of wine to the EU exempt of Customs Clearance Tax (CCT). There has been disagreement between South African exporters and certain EU importers about who gets the refund.

An accord has, however, been reached in principle between South African and UK wine bodies when members of the newly formed Wines of South Africa Importers Committee and representatives of WOSA recently met in London.

In the first year the pledged funds will go towards social responsibility programmes, assisting three potential wine marketers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa to gain experience in the UK. A non-profit company to drive an Ethical Trade Initiative would be established to manage a code of conduct for exporters.

Research would also be conducted into ways of increasing South African wine shelf space in the UK, consumer behaviour and trade promotions.

One of the first orders of business was to determine the practicalities of reclaiming CCT and setting up a trust to manage the funds.

Trade promotions would get the lion's share of the funds with £500,000, the Social responsibility programme, £160,000, consumer work, £55,00 and research £100,000. The remaining £465,000 would be allocated on a basis of strategy developed from the research.