Ice wine producers may be surprise winners in trade agreement

Canada's icewine producers could benefit from provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, currently being negotiated in Atlanta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

Global News has learned that if negotiators sign off on a major international trade agreement this week in Atlanta, it will contain significant measures that will impact Canada’s wine and spirits industry.

A senior Conservative source says the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement has provisions that protect the definition of ice wine. Only products that use the traditional production method of harvesting frozen grapes off the vine would be able to call themselves ice wine.

Canadian ice wine makers have complained that counterfeiters are capturing up to 50 per cent of the market in some Asian countries, selling cheap knock-offs made by adding sweeteners or picking grapes and then freezing them.

Winning this kind of protection would be welcomed by Canada’s wine industry, since TPP members are among the biggest consumers of ice wine.

The agreement, as it is currently worded, would also provide similar protection to “Canadian Whisky” and “Canadian Rye Whiskey.” Those products would have to be manufactured by Canadian producers to gain access to the TPP market, which will include 12 countries accounting for 40 per cent of global gross domestic product. That represents a potential market of 800 million people.

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Also contained in the agreement are provisions to streamline labelling requirements, making it easier to produce labels for multiple markets.

Trade ministers will be meeting in Atlanta this week, in what is hoped will be the final push to come up with an agreement.

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