You are what you eat: Creative anti-terrorism ideas as protectionist legislation

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Thu Nov 13 02:40:56 MST 2003


PARIS, Nov 9 (AFP) - French wine and spirit exporters, already suffering a
slide in their sales on the lucrative US market, face an ominous new hurdle
next month when a law aimed at combating bioterrorism comes into effect in
the United States. The Bioterrorism Act, due to come into force December 12,
strengthens controls on foreign food products entering the United States in
a bid to lessen chances of a biological terrorist attack.
"The situation is serious," said Patrick Ricard, head of the association of
French wine and spirits exporters (FEVS). "It affects the heart of France,
from north to south, west to east. "The components of this law pose an
enormous complication for dealers because they must register via the
Internet. Many of them are unfamiliar with this means of communication, and
do not speak English." Wine industry transport specialists have warned that
if a French company has not registered with US authorities by December 12 it
will find the US market closed to it until all the formalities are
completed.

For France that could be costly. In 2002 French wine and spirit exports to
the United States were worth EUR 1.7 billion (USD 1.9 billion), or 22
percent of all such French sales abroad and 75 percent of all food product
sales on the US market, according to Ricard, who is also chairman of the
French drinks group Pernod-Ricard. French food product exporters number
between 1,100 to 1,200 but the US law could affect 10 times as many people
since any bottler whose products could be sold in the United States must
conform to the new rules. French wine exports to the United States, apart
from high-quality Bordeaux vintages, have plunged 25 percent in the last
four months, Ricard said.

While the sales slide has coincided with sharp diplomatic differences over
the war in Iraq between the United States and France, Ricard stressed that
the Bioterrorism Act was not directed exclusively at French products and has
nothing to do with the French stand on Iraq [EU agricultural exports to the
U.S. totaled ? 10,77 billion in 2001, including ? 5,34billion in wine and
spirits, ? 0.53 billion in dairy products; ? 0.42 billion in fats and oils.
The FDA says the Act means that up to 16% of exporters to the U.S. will stop
trading with the U.S. FDA says the cost of compliance with the registration
measure will be 30 times greater for foreign facilities than for
U.S.facilities - JB].

French vintages accounted for just 15 percent of all US wine imports in
August this year, down from 23 percent in April, according to the FEVS. And
by the end of 2003, France could fall from second to fourth place among US
wine suppliers after Italy, Australia and Chile. Ricard said he hoped that
the Wine Accord between the European Union and the United States, adopted in
1983 and renewed 10 times since, will be extended between now and December
31 when it is set to expire.

"It's extremely important for wine, but we have to be pragmatic and not
exaggerate the situation," Ricard said. Talks on extending the pact have
stumbled on US demands for its winemaking practices to be definitively
recognised and a call from the EU for the abolition of "semi-generic"
designations in the United States such as Chablis and Burgundy.

Source: www.expatica.com/france.asp

For the text of the Bioterrorism Act, see
http://www.fda.gov/oc/bioterrorism/bioact.html

For the EU view of this legislation, see:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/agriculture/external/wto/usbta/index_en.htm




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