Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (Ceev), the voice of the EU wine companies, said that despite the launch of a myriad bilateral trade negotiations since the demise of the Doha round, only four free trade agreements (FTAs) have been concluded and protectionist barriers are proliferating in key world markets.

Wine is the largest EU agricultural export worth €8.9bn per year and the industry contributes more than €6.4bn to EU’s trade balance.

However, problems continue to haunt wine exporters in the EU hampering the growth prospects of wine exports, and are often part of recovery packages or unjustified retaliatory practices.

The trade body warned that prohibitive import tariffs still continue in India and Vietnam, while EU products face discriminatory treatment in Canada and Thailand.

Ceev noted that the EU must prioritise market access for this key strategic sector for Europe.

Among the 15 priority markets that are relevant for EU wine exports, the EU has concluded agreements only with South Korea, Singapore, Central America and Colombia – Peru.

Apart from bureaucratic barriers in Russia, major markets like the US fail to provide enough protection to geographical indications.

Furthermore, EU products have been taken hostage of bilateral tensions between the EU and China, with the launch of an unjustified retaliatory antidumping investigation this summer, according to the trade body.

Ceev president Jean-Marie Barillère said that the potential for exports to these key markets is jeopardized by protectionist policies that need to be tackled through more vigorous political and diplomatic efforts and ambitious trade negotiations.

"Our sector needs the determined support of the European Commission and the Member States at the highest political level," Barillère added.

"We urge the European Commission to look without delay for a political solution to a trade dispute that has political roots, and to solve trade tensions through stepped up dialogue and negotiation."

Ceev secretary general José Ramón Fernandez said that the EU wine sector is a unique economic asset to Europe, with deep social and cultural roots, that cannot be delocalized.

"Opening up more market opportunities for the largest EU agricultural export sector must surely be a top strategic priority for both EU agriculture and trade policy, particularly at a time when our economies struggle to recover and unemployment remains the bane of our society," added Fernandez.