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Let it flow: the global trade in wine

31 October 2018
Hanne Knockaert, International Trade Centre

Though European countries remain the world’s top wine exporters, other countries are catching up

Vineyards across the Northern Hemisphere these days are full of grape pickers. Despite problems caused by climate change, many are hoping for a bumper harvest as a result of this summer’s hot weather. Probably the most popular beverage in the world after water, the global wine trade was worth more than $35.5 billion in 2017. Europe accounted for 69% of exports, led by France, Italy and Spain.

Wines from other continents are also doing well in international markets.

Australia, for example, exported $2.1 billion worth of wine in 2017 in 2016, and, its exports grew at a steady 3% rate between 2013 and 2017.

Its main markets were China, the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, importing $655 millionillion, $359 million and $279m worth of wine respectively. Still, according to the International Trade Centre’s Export Potential Map, Australia, which ranked first among non-European nations, has room for growth with $153.8m in unexplored wine export opportunities.

Chile has become a serious competitor to Australia since this decade began, surpassing the latter’s wine exports between 2013 and 2016 and exporting $2 billion worth of wine in 2017. In addition, it is targeting similar markets. The top three destinations for Chilean wine in 2017 were China, the US and Japan, with exports to those nations of $323m, $248m and $207m respectively.

Europe aside, the country with the most untapped wine export potential is South Africa. This is despite its not being among the world’s top 10 wine exporters, trailing other so-called ‘new world wine’ exporters such as New Zealand and Argentina. Currently South Africa exports $717m worth of wine but has $273m worth of opportunities to explore, according to Export Potential Map.


The biggest markets for wine are the United States and the United Kingdom, importing $6.2 billion and $4.1 billion respectively, followed by Germany and China.

China, together with Hong Kong, in 2013-17 experienced steady growth in wine imports of 18% and 12% respectively. This could partly be a result of China lowering its tariffs on wine from certain countries considerably in the past decade, setting it on course to become the second-largest importer after the US.

Top 10 exporters of wine in 2017 (million USD)
• France: 10,281.9
• Italy: 6,761.3
• Spain: 3,255.2
• Australia: 2,052.3
• Chile: 2,018.1
• United States: 1,481.9
• New Zealand: 1,198.3
• Germany: 1,147.7
• Portugal: 879.3
• Argentina: 806.8

Top 10 importers of wine in 2017 (million USD)
• United States: 6,172.1
• United Kingdom: 4,118.9
• Germany: 2,877.445
• China: 2,797.6
• Canada: 1,885.5
• Japan: 1,616.7
• Hong Kong: 1,534.3
• Netherlands: 1,302.2
• Switzerland: 1,163.4
• Belgium: 1,064.7

Visit for more data on trade flows, for data on tariffs and to discover trade opportunities.