Washington DC—Wine Institute, the public policy advocacy group for California wineries, applauds today's announcement by the U.S. government requesting formal World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations with the Government of Canada to ensure that both imported and British Columbia (B.C.) wines have equal access to B.C. grocery store shelves. On April 1, 2015, B.C. implemented a discriminatory program to offer only B.C. wines in B.C. grocery stores and continues to expand the number of B.C. wine only outlets, effectively banning imported wines from this significant new distribution channel.
“Wine Institute appreciates the U.S. government's actions to resolve this dispute,” said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch. “We urge the WTO and the governments involved to reach a fair and equitable solution so that B.C. grocery store consumers can choose from the vast array of the world's great wines.”
“B.C. consumers are among the most knowledgeable and sophisticated purchasers of wine. Any expansion of retail distribution channels should ensure that consumers have convenient access to their preferred wines from around the world,” Koch added.
The trade enforcement action announced by United States Trade Representative Michael Froman states, “The discriminatory regulations implemented by British Columbia intentionally undermine free and fair competition, and appear to breach Canada’s commitments as a WTO member.”
California is the most popular import table wine category in Canada and in B.C. Canada is the #1 export country for California wines, accounting for $461 million in sales in 2015.
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