The newly renamed World Wine Trade Group, formerly known as the New World Wine Producers' Forum, met for a brief session in Cape Town this week and expressed its concerns about new European Union wine labelling regulations.

About 60 senior government and wine industry delegates from nine New World countries debated this issue, raising concerns about how it may negatively impact on wine exports to the EU and whether the new regulations were consistent with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

The new EU regulations, due to be implemented with effect from January next year, were described by one delegate to the congress as tantamount to exporting their regulatory regime and forcing other countries to accept it.

In pursuing its objective of removing unnecessary trade restrictions, the WWTG discussed elements of a labelling agreement that would benefit consumers and facilitate trade in wine. It was agreed that the technical working group would continue this work and present a draft labelling agreement at the next meeting.

The member countries in question were Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. Brazilian and Uruguayan representatives attended as observers.

Argentina formerly accepted the Mutual Acceptance Agreement of the organisation during the sitting and "South Africa is in the process of finalising its decision on formal signature of the MAA", a joint statement by the delegates stated.