24 Sep 2008

Winegrowers look forward to US trade deal

9:54 am on 24 September 2008

The wine industry says a free trade agreement between the United States and New Zealand can't come soon enough.

The US announced on Monday it will start negotiations with the P4 group, which consists of Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore. Negotiations will start in Singapore in March.

Wine exports to the United States were worth almost $NZ170 million in the year ending December 2007 - more than double the returns from apple exports, the next most valuable horticultural crop.

Winegrowers of New Zealand chief executive Philip Gregan (greg an) says no domestic downside seen to free trade with the US.

He says the New Zealand market would welcome wine from the United States as a quid pro quo for access to the US market.

The United States is New Zealand's third most valuable wine market behind Britain and Australia.