The French government says it could refer Russia to the WTO over a champagne labeling issue; Will talk to Russia about the problem, the minister said


The French government has said it could refer Russia to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Moscow’s plans to force champagne producers to add the designation “sparkling wine” to their products sold in Russia.

Moscow has passed legislation requiring the label “sparkling wine” to be added to bottles of foreign sparkling wine, while Russian producers of the local version, “shampanskoye”, do not have to add the label.

Some French producers – who claim that only products from the French Champagne region should be sold like champagne – have interpreted the legislation as an effort to benefit Russian winegrowers at their expense.

“Once we have considered [the Russian legislation], we will act in the coming days vis-à-vis the Russian authorities, “French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a parliamentary session.

“If by any chance there are proven violations of the rules of the World Trade Organization, we will seek remedies as we previously envisaged with Russia,” said Le Drian.

But he added: “I hope we can resolve these difficulties through dialogue.”

The WTO has a mechanism for settling trade disputes between member states.

France will talk to Russia

Le Drian later said the French government would discuss with Russian authorities in the coming days the labeling of champagne in Russia as sparkling wine.

He said Russia’s new champagne labeling law is a protectionist initiative and that France will act at European level to protect the interests of its wine producers. He also recalled that France is ready to take the matter to the World Trade Organization.

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