Wine lovers and exporters around the Pacific Rim will have reason to pop the cork Thursday after officials slashed red tape on shipments in the region that will ease an expensive bottleneck.
The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group said in a statement that the 21 member economies had agreed on a standard, simplified certificate, replacing the multi-layered system that had led to losses of about $1.0 billion a year in the industry.
And while exporters such as Australia, Chile, New Zealand and the United States are expected to benefit from the simplified regime, wine drinkers will also have a reason to celebrate as it is should lead to a wider array of choices at cheaper prices.
"Easier, more inclusive wine trade can improve product availability and prices for consumers and improve job creation and growth," said Tom LaFaille, international trade counsel for the Wine Institute, the private sector overseer of the APEC Wine Regulatory Forum.
Jamie Ferman of the US Department of Commerce described the model certificate as "a win-win for the industry".
Rocio Barrios Alvarado, chair of the APEC sub-committee on standards and conformance, said the single certificate "will reduce administrative burdens for producers endeavouring to take advantage of the increasing taste for wine in the region".
APEC said the bloc's wine trade had more than tripled to over $23 billion since 2000, but "unnecessary non-tariff barriers" and overlapping certificates had mean companies were facing huge costs.
It said focus now is on having the certificate implemented. APEC agreements are implemented on a voluntary basis and results are achieved through dialogue, cooperation and peer pressure.
APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.