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EU group slams protectionism in China wine row
by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) Aug 22, 2012

A European business group on Wednesday criticised Chinese calls to probe EU wine imports as "protectionist", as a dispute between the major trading partners threatened to escalate.

The China Alcoholic Drinks Industry Association this week formally requested the government to investigate whether wine from the European Union was damaging the domestic market.

China's commerce ministry is now considering whether to take action following the request, which made claims of unfair European subsidies to its industry, state media reported.

The EU Chamber of Commerce in China called the developments a "worrisome trend of trade protectionism".

"We strongly oppose such protectionist measures," said Zhang Qi, the vice chair of the chamber's agriculture, food and beverage working group.

"No doubt, both China and the EU will suffer from a trade dispute over wine, while Chinese wine lovers and consumers would be the biggest victims," Zhang said in a statement.

Experts said the request followed a flood of cheap imports of bulk and bottled European wine, including from Spain, last year.

Europe, China's biggest trading partner, exports an estimated one billion euros ($1.2 billion) worth of wine and spirits annually to the country.

The EU chamber said possible moves by China against alleged "dumping" and other retaliatory measures would hurt free trade and efforts by Chinese producers to improve quality.

China is seeking to build its own wine industry. Much of the wine made in the country has until recently been mass-produced and of low quality, but there are now some good Chinese wines being sold.

"The possible trade remedy measures will limit competition and distort trade. This is not a definite way to lead the improvement of wine quality for domestic wine producers," the chamber said.

Jim Boyce, operator of China-focused wine blog the Grape Wall of China, said Chinese winemakers find it difficult to compete against imported wines.

"Countries like Spain and Chile and Australia can make a lot of very reasonably good, super-cheap wine and China is still on the quality curve," he told AFP.

"It's hard for the mass-produced Chinese winemakers to compete against that, at that quality level."

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Burgundy winemakers furious at sale of chateau to Chinese
Lyon, France (AFP) Aug 22, 2012 - Winemakers in one of Burgundy's most prestigious areas have voiced dismay at the sale of the historic Chateau de Gevrey-Chambertin and its vineyards to a Chinese businessman.

The 12th-century chateau was sold earlier this year to a gambling tycoon from Macau for an unprecedented figure of 8 million euros ($10 million), according to Jean-Michel Guillon, the president of the Gevrey-Chambertin winemakers syndicate.

"We knew the chateau was for sale a year before it was concluded," Guillon told AFP on Wednesday. "The association of winemakers that I represent and numerous other people had put together a project to buy it for the community and use it as somewhere for a visitor and reception centre."

The winemakers first offered 4 million euros, then 5 million for a property that Guillon said had been valued at 3.5 million when it first went on the market.

"The owners wanted 7 million and they sold it for eight. I hope this is not the start of a wave of foreign investors moving into Burgundy.

"We are starting to say to ourselves that our heritage is going out the window because it is not the only (foreign) purchase we've seen in the area."


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Electrifying success in raising antioxidant levels in sweet potatoes
Philadelphia PA (SPX) Aug 22, 2012
Already ranked by some as number one in nutrition among all vegetables, the traditional sweet potato can be nutritionally supercharged ? literally ? with a simple, inexpensive electric current treatment that increases its content of healthful polyphenols or antioxidants by 60 percent, scientists said here today. Their report on the first electrical enhancement of sweet potatoes, a dietary ... read more

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