US liquor, wine groups supporting TPP

The U.S. liquor and wine industries are raising their glasses to an expansive Asia-Pacific trade deal they argue will help their exporters.

The Distilled Spirits Council said they will support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact, joining the Wine Institute to highlight provisions in the deal that will boost growth for them and the broader economy.

"While it is not a perfect agreement, TPP is a positive step forward to ensure U.S. spirits exports will have a level playing field in several overseas markets,” said Christine LoCascio, the Council’s senior vice president for international trade, who is an advisor on two U.S. Trade Representative Trade advisory committees.

She noted that the TPP includes new protections for bourbon and Tennessee whiskey — the top U.S. spirits exports — as well provisions that will streamline exports of spirits throughout the 11 other TPP countries.

For example, the deal includes a separate annex on distilled spirits establishing best practices for labeling and certification requirements, which the group says will create more predictable rules for exporting U.S. spirits.

The U.S. has produced five straight years of record spirits exports, reaching more than $1.56 billion in 2014, of which two-thirds is U.S. whiskeys.

In early October, shortly after the completion of the TPP, the Wine Institute announced that it would support the deal. 

"Strong and market-opening trade agreements grow the U.S. economy and create and support well-paying U.S. jobs,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Bobby Koch at the time. 

“We believe that TPP will deliver these results," Koch said. 

The group comprises nearly 1,000 California wineries and related businesses. California wine represents 90 percent of U.S. wine production, 90 percent of U.S. exports.

U.S. wineries shipped more than $641 million of wine to TPP countries in 2014, representing over 40 percent of total U.S. wine exports.

Overall, trade agreements have boosted wine exports to nearly $1.5 billion last year from $98 million in 1989, an increase of nearly 1,500 percent.

Besides the United States he 11 TPP countries are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.