By Philip Fine A consultant for the California wine industry thinks the US will be prepared to cut a deal at next September's World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, over European demands for a mandatory wine and spirits register of geographical indications.

Jim Clawson, CEO of JBC International, a trade consultancy firm which represents the California Wine Institute and E&J Gallo Winery, told that the European Union (EU) could create a deal which would protect names such as Chablis and Burgundy. He said this could be done by offering agricultural trade concessions in the food trade talks which are continuing in parallel, as part of the WTO's Doha development round.

"The EU does not have enough muscle" to force the US to the table otherwise, said Clawson, a trade consultant since 1983. Without such trade-offs, the agreed geographical indication solution would lean more towards the voluntary register sought by New World wine producers, he said.