Chilean wine exports will grow 16.6% and generate over US$700m in returns in 2003, according to the president of the National Agricultural Association, Andrés Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz was speaking at the Vinitech wine technology fair, held in the Chilean capital of Santiago.

The sector expert said these figures would firmly establish Chile as the world's fifth largest wine exporting nation. Chile's wine exports were worth around US$600m in 2002.

Santa Cruz warned, though, that while exports to Europe and the US were growing rapidly, domestic wine consumption was in decline. He said reversing this trend was a key objective for the sector in the remainder of 2003.