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  • OTRI.USA
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American Shipper

U.S. spills the wine on Canada at the WTO

The U.S. requested a trade enforcement action against Canada in the World Trade Organization, alleging that British Columbia discriminates against U.S. and other imported wines by allowing only its own province’s wines to be sold on grocery store shelves.

   Frustrated by British Columbia’s regulations hindering the sale of U.S. wine in the province’s grocery stores, the United States has requested a trade enforcement action against Canada in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
   The U.S. alleges that British Columbia discriminates against U.S. and other imported wines by allowing only its own province’s wines to be sold on grocery store shelves.
   “American winemakers produce some of the highest-quality, most popular wines in the world,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in a statement. “When U.S. wine producers have a fair shot at competing on a level playing field, they can compete and win in markets around the globe.
   “The discriminatory regulations implemented by British Columbia intentionally undermine free and fair competition, and appear to breach Canada’s commitments as a WTO member,” he added. “Canada and all Canadian provinces, including BC, must play by the rules.”
   BC regulations were amended in April 2015 to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores. The rules provided two options for grocery stores to sell wine: Non-origin BC wines may sold in the store, but only BC wines may be sold from grocery store shelves.
   “Imported wine may only be sold in grocery stores under a ‘store within a store’ option,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative explained. “Under the ‘store within a store’ option, wine sales must be conducted in a ‘wine store’ that is physically separated from the grocery store, has controlled access, and separate cash registers from the grocery store’s cash registers. As a ‘store within a store,’ a grocery store may sell both BC wine and imported wine.”
   The USTR said it’s not aware of any BC grocery stores selling wine using the more costly “store within a store” option. “BC’s regulations limit choices and raise costs for Canadian fine wine lovers,” the USTR said.
   Consultations are the first step in the WTO dispute settlement process. If the U.S. and Canada are not able to reach a mutually agreed solution through consultations, then the U.S. may ask the WTO to set up a dispute settlement panel to examine the matter.