spiritsNEWS July 2023

A New Impetus for EU-CELAC Relations

Bilateral EU-CELAC relations have been in the spotlight in recent weeks, on both sides of the Atlantic, with the publication of the European Commission and EEAS’ joint communication on a New Agenda for Relations between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean, President Ursula von der Leyen's visit to South America and the visits of numerous Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) leaders to the EU, including Brazilian President Lula da Silva.

spiritsEUROPE and its members welcome this new momentum in EU-CELAC relations, as Latin America and the Caribbean is an important and growing market for EU spirits exports: in 2022, EU spirits producers exported over €393 million worth of spirits to LAC countries. As a result, we were very pleased to see that, in the new agenda for EU-CELAC relations, one pillar is entirely devoted to trade relations. We indeed agree that “strengthening a common EU-LAC trade agenda” must be a priority, whether this means ratifying updated or new trade agreements, namely with Chile, Mexico and MERCOSUR countries, working together within the WTO and regulatory cooperation to prevent red tape and trade restrictions. We also welcome the call for regulatory convergence and dialogue on digital markets, as well as cooperation in the fight against crime, given that the role of organised crime in illicit trade in alcohol is increasing and that unrecorded consumption of alcohol accounted for 14% of the total alcohol consumption in the Americas in 2016. All our key priorities and recommendations for EU-CELAC trade relations can be found in our two-pager, available here.

With the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council keen to maintain good trade relations with the LAC countries, we look forward to the EU-CELAC Summit in Brussels on 17 and 18 July, and hope that it will be an opportunity to turn the new agenda into concrete progress on all the action points identified. Bilateral meetings in the margin of the summit are a way of making progress on long-standing market access issues, such as in Peru (tax discrimination), Colombia (GMP requirements) and the Dominican Republic (discriminatory tax stamp system).

In addition, the Summit will be a crucial step towards making significant progress on finalising the EU-MERCOSUR agreement on the environmental addendum, enabling the start of the ratification process in the coming months. This agreement is key to preserving our competitiveness and would offer us a unique opportunity to diversify our export markets. This is in essence the message held by a coalition of 19 European business associations, including spiritsEUROPE, in a letter to the President of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council. In this letter, we underline that the multiple crises that Europe has been facing since 2020 demonstrate that strong and diversified trade relations are key to securing the availability of essential goods and industrial inputs on the EU market as well as the prosperity of our production through diversified markets.

Regarding spirit drinks specifically, the key benefits of the EU-MERCOSUR FTA are a gradual tariff liberalisation over 4 years, the protection of spirits GIs such as Swedish vodka and Cognac, greater protection against counterfeit and standards recognition, to name but a few. More information on the benefits of the EU-MERCOSUR FTA for spirits and sustainable trade can be found in our two-pager, available here.



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