Washington D.C. — Wine Institute, the public policy advocacy association for California wineries, applauds today’s announcement that the U.S. government has requested a formal World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel against Canada to ensure that U.S. wines have equal access to British Columbia grocery store shelves. Previous WTO Consultations with the Canadian government yielded no resolution to this issue.
“Wine Institute greatly appreciates the Trade Representative’s continued efforts to end these discriminatory practices and hold Canada accountable for their WTO obligations,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch. “Canadian consumers should have the same access to the vast array of the world’s great wines.”
On April 1, 2015, B.C. implemented a discriminatory program to offer only B.C. wines in B.C. grocery stores and expand the number of B.C. wine only outlets, effectively blocking B.C. grocery shoppers from purchasing imported wines. Wine Institute will continue to advocate for equal treatment of imported and domestic wines by all Canadian provinces. Policies supported by B.C., Ontario, and Quebec that provide favorable distribution and retail access, discounted excise taxes, and local bottling requirements for the benefit of domestic producers are contrary to Canada’s commitments to the WTO.
California is the most popular import table wine category in B.C, and Canada is the #1 export market for California wines, accounting for $444 million in sales in 2017. U.S. wine exports, more than 90% from California, reached $1.53 billion last year.