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Published:  23 July, 2008

By David Williams

The new audit co-ordinator of South Africa's Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association (WIETA), Peter Lewis, has called for greater supplier loyalty from UK retailers in order to safeguard ethical advancements in the Cape. Speaking at a press conference at last week's Wines of South Africa tasting at Lord's, Lewis said the association, which promotes ethical trade in the Cape, could not succeed in its aims without long-term contracts'. We can't do what we need to do if the contracts are unreliable,' he went on, We need stability.' The UK trade was praised, however, by Lewis's colleague, WIETA CEO Nicky Taylor. We wouldn't have been able to achieve what we have so far, if [UK importers and retailers] hadn't pooled the CCT [Common Customers Tariff] rebate,' Taylor said. UK buyers' interest has been a key driving force.' Taylor said that two UK retailers, the Co-op and Tesco, were now full members of the association, which was celebrating its first full year of activity at the tasting. Taylor also confirmed that 31 work-places in the Cape had now been audited by the association, with 15 of those belonging to Distell and four to Stellenbosch Vineyards. Six work-places were now fully accredited. Responding to an accusation from the floor that the high number of Distell properties which had been submitted for audit showed WIETA to be biased or anti-competitive', Lewis said: We are an independent body. The members tell us when they're ready to be audited. It's up to them.' When asked about the costs of WIETA compliance affecting South African producers' competitiveness, Lewis said: If you believe that labour conditions are a negotiable cost, then you are going to have trouble. Compliance is not an either/or, it's a process.' Looking forward, Taylor said that the association was attempting to attract greater involvement from South Africa's other key export markets, particularly the Netherlands. She also said that the association was targeting the labour brokers who provide many of South Africa's wine farms with workers, for membership. Summing up the first year, Taylor said: We have received a lot of support from a variety of stakeholders, and most of the wine export community has signed up as members, but we realise that we are not going to rectify everything overnight.'