Agreement on trade in spirits

Agreement on trade in spirits

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Agreement on trade in spirits


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Development > South Africa

Agreement on trade in spirits

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2002/52/EC of 21 January 2002 on the conclusion of an Agreement in the form of an exchange of letters between the European Community and the Republic of South Africa on trade in spirits.



In October 1999, the European Union (EU) and South Africa concluded a Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA). This agreement governs their bilateral relations and is supplemented by three additional agreements: an agreement on trade in spirits, an agreement on trade in wine, and an agreement on agreement on scientific and technological cooperation.


The agreement on trade in spirits applies to spirits already mentioned in the 1983 International Convention on the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System.

The agreement lays down provisions on the marketing of existing stocks which conform to the legislation in force but which do not conform to the conditions of the present agreement. These may continue to be marketed by wholesalers or producers for a period of three years and by retailers until stocks are exhausted.

However, the agreement does not apply to spirits which are in transit through the territory of one of the parties, or which originate in the territory of one of the parties and which are consigned in small quantities between those parties under the conditions provided for in the agreement.

Description and presentation of spirits

The agreement provides for the reciprocal protection of names and other provisions linked to the description and presentation of spirits. This involves the protection of names that refer to the Member State of the EU or to South Africa, geographical indications within countries (such as Scotch Whisky) as well as certain specific trademarks. The indications protected for each Member State of the EU and for South Africa are listed in an annex to the agreement. In addition to geographical names, eight specific denominations are also protected under the agreement.

It is possible for the same geographical indications or very similar indications to be used by both parties. In this case, both indications may be protected if the name is traditionally and consistently used and the true origin of the spirit is clear. With regard to indications of a place situated outside the territories of the parties, the provisions are the same, use of the indication being regulated by the country of origin. The joint committee set up by the agreement examines the specific cases and gives its opinion on the use of denominations.

Specific provisions relating to the eight nongeographical protected denominations

Eight specific denominations of spirits originating in the EU which are not geographical denominations are also protected: ‘Grappa’, ‘Ouzo’, ‘Korn’, ‘Kornbrand’, ‘Jägertee’, ‘Jagertee’, ‘Jagatee’ and ‘Pacharan’. Producers in South Africa also use some of these denominations. According to the agreement, they may continue to be marketed in South Africa during a transitional period of five years. After that date, the denominations can only be used to denominate the products originating in the EU.


The smooth application of the agreement is the responsibility of the authorities appointed by each party and a joint committee of representatives of both parties. The joint committee ensures that the agreement is applied, examines the questions raised, ensures coordination and may make recommendations on its implementation.

Imports must be accompanied by appropriate certification.

The methods of analysis used for the implementation of the agreement, particularly for the control and certification of products, are those recognised as reference methods by the International Vine and Wine Office (OIV) or the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO).


The agreement provides for a consultation procedure in cases where one of the parties considers that the other has not complied with the agreement. If they do not reach agreement, they may invoke the dispute settlement procedure. In the absence of an agreement before the settlement body, the party may refer the matter to arbitrators.

Community assistance for the restructuring of the South African wine and spirits sector

The EU has undertaken, within the framework of the TDCA, to provide EUR 15 million to establish a programme on the restructuring of the wine and spirits sector and to ensure the marketing and distribution of South African wines and spirits.

Entry into force

The agreement enters into force on the first day of the month following that during which the parties have notified each other of the completion of the necessary procedures. In the meantime, the agreement entered into force provisionally on 28 January.


Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2002/52/EC [adoption: agreement ACC/2001/0292] 21.1.2002 _ OJ L 28 of 30.1.2002

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