China to be sixth-largest wine-producing country by 2016

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China will have moved from eighth-largest wine producer in the world in 2012 to the sixth largest by 2016, putting it ahead of Australia and Chile, according to data from Vinexpo.


It means that China is now a major wine-producing country, with wine production forecast to grow by 54% to reach 166 million 9-litre cases in the five-year period.


The 18 Chinese exhibitors at Vinexpo this year include the province of Sichuan, which for the first time has taken a regional pavilion to showcase its wine and spirits producers.


Vinexpo organisers said: “The striking number of Chinese winemakers, distillers and visitors at Vinexpo this year emphasises more than ever the exhibition’s international scope.


Their presence also signals a fundamental change in their relationship with Europe. It is summed up in the phrase often heard this week: “They used to come to taste and learn; now they come to sell.”


The organisers added that sales in Europe and the establishment of distribution agreements are their primary aims.


However, recent “sensitive” trade disputes between France and China were highlighted by France’s foreign trade minister, Nicole Bricq. He said that wine and spirits were a major sector in the French economy and that distant markets did not always play by the same rules. “Our policy is to support the sector,” he said.


He added that everything necessary would be done to prevent obstacles to the wine trade.


Nonetheless, the French wine industry is in a positive frame of mind. Bricq said that initiatives were in hand to protect geographical appellations, such as those recently agreed with China over Champagne.


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