The long running trade spat between Australia and the EC over the labelling of wines exported into the EU has run into further problems. This time Australia is threatening to involve the World Trade Organisation over new labelling regulations to be introduced at the beginning of next year.
The Australian government claims that the new regulations are tantamount to protectionism because they are so restrictive. Indeed, other wine producing countries such as the US, New Zealand and Argentina have also voiced their concerns over the regulations.
The regulations establish an extensive list of requirements involving both the labelling and bottling of Australian wines exported to EU countries. It restricts the use of certain bottle types and introduces a system to protect what the EC says are "traditional terms" used to describe a wine.
In the past the US has already argued that the regulations contravene existing international trade agreements, and now the Australian government is taking up the same stance, in defence of its own industry.
Australian wine producers claim that the new regulations mean many of their wines will have to have their labelling completely changed. On top of that certain grape varieties will not be recognised if they are grown outside of the EU, and will subsequently have to be labelled as an alternative variety on bottles exported to the EU.
The Australian government has lodged a petition to the EC, explaining that the regulations have been implemented with little prior consultation. They claim that many wine producers have already gone ahead and ordered their labelling and bottles for this year's vintage. The petition also details the impact such measures will have on the Australian wine industry.