The FINANCIAL — The U.S. Senate took the final step on June 24 to approve the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act which will lead to new free trade agreements and help grow exports of U.S. products including California wines which represent 90 percent of U.S. wine exports. The House vote was 218-208 and the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 60-38. Also known as “fast-track,” the legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature.
“As a result of free trade agreements implemented since 1989, U.S. agricultural exports have nearly quadrupled in value and now stand at a record $152.5 billion,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch. “Trade agreements have helped boost U.S. wine exports to nearly $1.5 billion in 2014.”
The U.S. is currently negotiating trade agreements with 11 other countries under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and with the European Union under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). “Trade Promotion Authority is key to the U.S. completing strong agreements that will uphold the 2006 US-EU Wine Trade Agreement, open new markets and set enforceable rules for trade with other countries,” Koch added.
The TPA bill includes strong language on the need to curtail improper use of Geographical Indications (GIs), addressing a growing threat to American companies that use common names for their products. In addition, in response to EU efforts to claim exclusive use globally of common semi-generic and descriptive wine terms, the bill includes strong committee report language added by the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, directing U.S. negotiators in TPP and TTIP to prevent other countries from improperly regulating GIs and other terms of a descriptive or generic nature that would limit market access for U.S. wine, according to Wine Institute.
Wine Institute is the association of nearly 1,000 California wineries and related businesses. California wine represents 90 percent of U.S. wine production, 90 percent of U.S. exports, contributes over $120 billion annually to the U.S. economy and generates 820,000 jobs nationwide. U.S. wine exports reached $1.49 billion in winery revenues in 2014, a 64 percent increase from five years ago.