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French wine exports fall

China syndrome sees foreign trade in wines and spirits slump by 7.3%

OVERSEAS sales of French wine and spirits dropped by 7.3% in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period last year.

Exports dropped to €4.8billion from €5.1bn in 2013 and the Fédération des exportateurs de vins et spiritueux (FEVS) said the decline was largely due to the “China effect” and its crack-down on corruption amongst officials.

Since 2013 it has banned the practice of giving gifts and holding lavish banquets and this has had a significant impact - with reduced French wine and spirit sales to China making up 30% of the fall in exports.

Exports sales of cognac were also down by 12% for the same reason.

Bordeaux wines were particularly hard hit. They were down 28% as China had become the biggest export market for Bordeaux crus, with an increase in value of 168% between 2009 and 2014.

The region also suffered because of the disputes between China and the EU over solar panels.

China was accused of “dumping” cheap solar panels in the EU in order to steal market share and the EU imposed import levies drawing a Chinese threat to retaliate by adding charges to wines from Europe.

Disappointing crops and a difficult economic situation were also said to be to blame for the poor performance.

Champagne, however, was still bubbly with sales up 8%.

France is now the world’s biggest producer of wine after overtaking Italy.

Its total wine production for last year is expected to reach 47 million hectolitres while Italian national agriculture association, Coldiretti, said its annual production was expected to fall 15% to 41m hectolitres, after poor weather gave it the worst harvest since 1950.

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