Around 4,500 people in the Brazilian wine sector took to the streets earlier this month, asking the government to renegociate its wine agreements with other South American countries.
The protesters, who gathered in the south eastern town of Porto Allegre, have the support of more than 20 Brazilian wine associations and labour unions. They threaten to take their fight to the Brazilian capital and set up roadblocks along Brazil’s borders if their demands are not met.
Brazilian wine industry leaders are demanding that the government revoke its 2002 wine accord with Chile, step up the fight against illegal wine imports, and implement a raft of favourable domestic policies, including minimum grape prices and special state funds to strengthen the wine sector.
Hermes Zaneti, president of the Wine and Grape Chamber of Brazil, told decanter.com that the livelihood of 15,000 families which produce Brazilian wine grapes is under threat. Due to low import tariffs, he said, half of the Brazilian wine market is in the hands of Argentina and Chile.
‘In a globalized economy we cannot accept that only the market decides the lives of people,’ said Zaneti. ‘We want our government to be more of a regulator to prevent free trade from killing wines made in Brazil.’
However Wines of Chile president Rene Merino said it was unlikely Brazil would cancel its wine trade commitments with Chile.
‘We don’t believe those agreements can be cancelled. It would mean a major contravention of WTO rules,’ he said.
Written by Jimmy Langman