Actions led by FEVS are structured around two different poles, in particular:
Negotiating trade agreements
For more than 15 years, the World Trade Organisation has seen that the Agenda known as “development agenda” accumulates setbacks facing systemic issues that the decision method – the consensus of 164 members – does not enable to resolve.
In this context, the bilateral negotiations of the European Union are significant, provided that the later draws conclusions from obstacles during the CETA ratification process.
Certification and registration
The provision of certificates such as the prior registration of products is often the first steps to carry out to access a market and, accordingly, the first potential barrier for products.
As part of international exchanges, this theme is often complex. It requires a balance between, on the one hand, the necessity for importing countries to guarantee the security of their consumers, on the other hand, the requirement not to create an unjustified and/or disproportionate obstacle to the import on their market.
For FEVS, the stake is to show the security offered by French wines and spirits, on account of the regulatory framework and control mechanisms which they are subject to, to limit as much as possible the constraints – administrative but also financial – for wine and spirit exporters.
Whether to define categories, analytical settings, oenological practices or other composition requirement, standards regarding product characteristics are part of the main non-tariff barriers.
Traditionally, if the European Union has a very detailed regulatory environment, the new consumption countries progressively build a regulatory framework that may – unintentionally or by assumed protectionist aim – create obstacles to trade. Fighting against these barriers is a major objective for FEVS since the majority of these countries is to become, tomorrow, growth drivers for exports of French wines and spirits.
Merging domestic rules into international rules, like those issued by the OIV for wine products, is one of the main approach of FEVS action.
Labelling is both the conveyor of fair information of to the consumer and the differentiation level of brands on extremely competitive markets. Information appearing on it must meet the detailed standards that are often specific to wines and spirits.
As the label is the usual information support for the consumer, an increasing numbers of countries implement domestic labelling rules that are usually justified by public health or environmental reasons (labelling indications or specific markings, compliance obligation…). Often, these rules are neither necessary nor proportionate compared to the stated objective and, accordingly, they create many non-tariff barriers for products.
One of FEVS priorities is to avoid establishing disproportionate labelling standards that hinders wine and spirit exports.
Tax is the very expression of the sovereign power. This tax sovereignty is accepted by all in international trade, which enables each country to autonomously determine its taxation method, however, provided that it does not treat imported products in a discriminatory way.
In an open world, certain forms of tax competition may affect this freedom to tax. Hence the significance for States to measure the relations between taxation, legitimate trade, market transparency, consumer protection and local development.
Also in this context, one must show pedagogy to develop good practices. And if this consensual approach does not succeed, one must show firmness, by resorting to multilateral trade rules.
Accordingly, cooperation and demand are the two sides of the same coin: commitment in favour of a balanced international trade that complies with rules, to guarantee a transparent and fair tax environment that is required for companies.
Health and trade
In Europe and worldwide, domestic or regional public authorities develop initiatives whose aim is to promote – on behalf of public health – restrictive measures against operators and alcoholic beverage markets. These initiatives are part of the orientations developed by the World Health Organisation and increasingly focus on the taxation, advertising and product availability issues.
As the entire sector, FEVS is aware of public health stakes: it shares the necessity to fight against the harmful use of alcohol and its individual and collective consequences, in accordance with the 2030 Sustainable Development Objectives adopted by the United Nations.
Nevertheless, FEVS makes sure that this objective is not challenged in its practice by the Sates and that public health does not become a reason for new barriers to wine and spirit trade.