A special meeting between the co-chairmen of the South Africa-EU Cooperation Council is to be held before the end of July to fast track the Wine and Spirits Agreement, which has become bogged down.

A date and venue has yet to be announced for the meeting between Alistair Ruiters, director general of the South African Department of Trade and Industry and Koos Richelle, EU director general for Development.

The council was established in terms of the Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement to look into areas of concern by both parties. They met in Brussels earlier this week to discuss various matters and agreed there was a need to elevate the talks from technical committee level.

Gunter Muller, one of the South African negotiating teams said both parties were eager to finalise the matter. Trade talks between South Africa and the EU started in December 1994.

"There are a few minor issues with regard to oenological practices, but those we have agreed to resolve once the agreement has been put in place. On the administrative front there are no problems, but when it comes to intellectual property there are still quite a few details which need to be ironed out.

"Principle differences exist in this regard and there is a need for it to be elevated to director general level to see whether they can find compromises to resolve the impasse.

"We all know there is a need to complete it and move on," said Muller.