Italian winemakers were worried that the US will raise import tariffs on their products, which could pose as a major setback on the country's already fragile economic growth prospects. Last month, Washington threatened to levy massive tariffs on French wine, but it spared the Italian wine industry, reports Xinhua news agency. Now, with trade talks between the European Union (EU) and the United States set to conclude in January, there is speculation among industry and trade officials that Italian wines could soon face tariffs of up to 50 per cent, double their current level.
"Winemakers (in Italy) could be facing big problems," Lorenzo Tersi, a long-time consultant in Italy's wine sector, told Xinhua.
"Unless there is a breakthrough in trade talks, we could damage our share of the market in the US, after we worked hard for a long time to build it up to 30 per cent."
If the tariffs were raised, it could have a dramatic impact on Italy's wine sales in the US, which hit $2 billion in 2018, Tersi said.
The Italian economy has grown slower than the EU as a whole since at least the start of the global economic turmoil in 2008.
The Italian government forecast that the economy will grow 0.6 per cent in 2020, higher than this year's growth rate but below the forecast for the EU.
But there was still hope for the Italian wine sector, according to Confagricoltura, a national federation for the Italian agricultural sector.
Confagricoltura has called on EU trade representatives to take action to help protect European exports.