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

Just Posted

Dry weather leads to historic low water levels in local rivers

The prolonged cold, coupled with the lack of precipitation, has contributed to the situation

Bella Coola businesses still eligible for Wildfire Business Transition Training Program

Small businesses are eligible to apply for reimbursement of training expenses up to $10,000

Bill passes to make Sept. 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation statutory holiday

Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad and CRD Area F director Joan Sorley were in Ottawa for the vote

Wally Webber elected to fourth term as Nuxalk Chief Councilor

Webber took the win with 174 votes out of a total of 389

Bella Coola expected to be hottest spot in B.C. today

Temperatures are predicted to rise to 18 C

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

Most Read