French Government Says It May Refer Russia To WTO Over Champagne Labelling Issue; Will Talk To Russia About Issue, Says Minister
The French government has said that it may refer Russia to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over Moscow's plans to force champagne producers to add the designation "sparkling wine" to their products sold in Russia.
Moscow has adopted legislation requiring the "sparkling wine" label be added to bottles of foreign fizz, while Russian producers of the local version, "shampanskoye," do not have to add the label.
Some French producers - who assert that only products from France's Champagne region should be sold as champagne - interpreted the legislation as an effort to benefit Russian winemakers at their expense.
"Once we have considered [the Russian legislation], we will act in the coming days in respect of the Russian authorities," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a session of parliament.
"If by chance there are proven violations of the rules of the World Trade Organisation, we will seek recourse in the way we have previously envisaged to do with Russia," Le Drian said.
But he added, "I hope that we will be able to resolve these difficulties through dialogue."
The WTO has a mechanism for resolving trade disputes between member states.
France To Talk To Russia
Le Drian subsequently said that the French government will talk to Russian authorities in the coming days about the labelling of champagne in Russia as sparkling wine.
He said that Russia's new champagne labelling law is a protectionist initiative and that France will act on a European level to protect its wine producers' interests. He also reiterated that France is ready to take the case to the World Trade Organisation.