U.S. files second trade complaint over B.C. wine in grocery stores

Issue of selling wine, beer and spirits in Canada has been a flashpoint for American producers

As dairy products, Bombardier aircraft and softwood lumber continue to bedevil trade relations between Canada and the U.S., negotiators will have to add wine to their list of issues to resolve.

The U.S. has filed a second complaint with the World Trade Organization over what it perceives as B.C.’s unfair rules regarding wine sales in the province’s grocery stores, according to a release from the WTO.

In the complaint, the U.S. argues that local wines have an unfair advantage in B.C. due to the province’s rules that ban imported wine from grocery store shelves.

The rules dictate that imported products are relegated to a “store-within-a-store” model, separate from B.C. products and therefore appear discriminatory and inconsistent with a WTO agreement, according to the complaint.

READ: Canadian wine is on NAFTA negotiating table

The U.S. first raised the issue in January, but according to the WTO website no dispute panel was established and they were not notified of either a solution or withdrawal by the parties.

“British Columbia’s discriminatory regulations continue to be a serious problem for U.S. winemakers,” United States Trade Representative spokeswoman Amelia Breinig said in an email. ”USTR is requesting new consultations to ensure that we can reach a resolution that provides U.S. wine exporters fair and equal access in British Columbia.”

The B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology and The Office of the United States Trade Representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The province’s previous trade minister, Shirley Bond, said the government will defend the industry against the challenge when it was first issued in January.

The issue of selling wine, beer and spirits in Canada has been a flashpoint for American producers for some time.

The U.S. government’s annual report on trade barriers highlights restrictions on listings, cost-of-service mark-ups, maximum or minimum price points, distribution policies, labelling requirements and making suppliers discount their prices to meet sales targets as areas of concern.

The report said the U.S. government is reviewing the situation in Ontario, where about 70 grocery stores are now allowed to sell both domestic and imported wine, under certain conditions that include country of origin.

It also suggested a recent move to allow Quebec wine to be sold in Quebec grocery stores could give craft wineries an unfair advantage.

The Canadian Press

BC Wine

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The State of Aging: COVID-19 exposed a long-term care system already in crisis

A look at Greater Victoria’s aging population and what that will mean for the future

Police seek ‘high-risk sex offender’ last seen in Victoria

Scott Jones is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for being ‘unlawfully at large’

Oak Bay home ready to house refugees, immigrants

District leases two village homes to Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society

Central Saanich police sport personalized face masks

Masks feature the crest and individual officer pin numbers

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read