Georgia's 18-month ban on wine exports to Russia is entirely unjustified the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, a business organisation cultivating commercial links with the US, has claimed.

"Foreign capital investments in modern growing and production techniques, and a counterfeit crackdown by Georgia's government, have raised the quality of Georgian wine," a spokesperson for the chamber said yesterday (26 September).

The chamber disputes Russia's official reasons for the embargo imposed in March 2006 - alleged dangerously high pesticide residues. Indeed, the Georgian government sees the restrictions as part of a wider geopolitical row between the two countries. In the same period, Russia has imposed import bans on Georgian dairy products as well as mineral water.

Russia accounts for 75% of Georgia's wine exports and the ban has forced a number of Georgian producers, such as Pernod Ricard-owned Georgian Wines & Spirits, to cut production by 20%.