Onivins, the French national wine agency, has voted to increase its budget for foreign markets promotion to €10.276m (US$12.757m), compared to €10m last year.

For the first time the whole amount will be released at once, to allow better planning of marketing campaigns.

The UK, the Netherlands and Germany will received the largest share of the funds. But the US will also be targeted for a boost. Onivins will support French wine companies at two major trade fairs in the US in 2004, the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers Association in Las Vegas in May, and Vinexpo in Chicago in June.

The news of Onivins' funding comes only a day after the French government agency Sopexa also pledged an increase in marketing funding for the US, where French wines have suffered a decline this year, following boycott's over the French stance on the Iraq war.

Sopexa has raised its US budget to €7.5m from €6.0m. Most of these funds will be directed towards the wine sector