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EU wine producers surprised by Chinese investigation

By Xinhua writer Hu Tao (Xinhua)

08:44, June 07, 2013

BEIJING, June 6 (Xinhua) -- European wine producers said they have been shocked at the arrival of a Chinese anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into wine imported from the European Union announced by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Wednesday.

Francois Regis, head of the Chateau Saint Jean de Conques in Languedoc-Roussillon, a renowned wine-producing region in southern France, said the campaign will damage the EU wine industry.

Wine producers and agents from over 20 countries and regions worldwide participated in the 2013 Top Wine China expo held from Tuesday to Thursday at the China National Convention Center in Beijing.

"My family has been producing wine for 85 years. I am the first one to do it in China," Regis said.

Regis has cast his eye on China's rapidly growing middle class, which has demonstrated a growing desire for imported wine. However, he is concerned about a possible increase in wine import duties.

"If China raises EU wine import duties, prices will skyrocket and exporters will cut into my profits," he said.

"I will not cut my wine prices. The worst possibility for me is to leave the Chinese market," he added.

Achim Frey, manager of Germany's Britzingen Wine Cooperative in Germany, said he was surprised to hear about the investigation. He also voiced worries about EU wine producers losing access to China's burgeoning middle class.

"Compared to high-end wine consumers, the middle class is more concerned about prices. If import duties are raised, we will lose them," he said.

"We will have to wait and see. Maybe in a few weeks, both sides will find a way out," he added.

EU wine companies have been working to expand their business in China by directly linking wine producers with Chinese retailers and consumers.

Pierre Olivier Rives is the sales manager of French wine cooperative Les Vignerons Reunis de Monsegur, which established an office in Shanghai in April in order to introduce entry-level and midrange wines to China, particularly in large cities.

"China has an astonishing number of high-end consumers and a booming middle class," Rives said, adding that the company is working to meet varying requests from Chinese consumers by providing tailored wine packages.

"We are excited by the rapidly expanding Chinese wine market and the duty issue is not particularly important in comparison," he said.

"I firmly believe in the market's potential," he added.

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