WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wine Institute, the public policy advocacy group for nearly 1,000 California wineries and related businesses, strongly opposes the British Columbia (B.C.) government's 100 percent B.C. wine on grocery shelves program.
On April 1, 2015, B.C. implemented its discriminatory plan to relocate existing and new 100 percent B.C. wine licenses to grocery store shelves. To date, imported wines may not be sold in B.C. grocery stores, while grocery store expansion for exclusively B.C. wines continues. B.C.'s program not only effectively prohibits imported wines on provincial grocery shelves, it denies B.C. grocery store consumers the opportunity to choose from the vast array of the world's great wines.
As has been repeatedly pointed out over the past two years to B.C. and Canadian government officials by Wine Institute, other international industry organizations, and the United States (U.S.) and other governments, B.C. efforts to modernize retail distribution channels and promote the sale of B.C. wines can reasonably be achieved by modifying the initiative so that all wines, both local and imported, can equally access grocery store shelves.
Wine Institute appreciates the continued efforts of, and strongly supports, the governments of the U.S., Australia, Argentina, Chile, the European Union, Mexico and New Zealand, which on April 29, 2016, filed a formal objection with the B.C. Premier challenging the province's grocery store regulations for according less favorable treatment to imported wine than they do to B.C. wine and, as such, violating Canada’s commitments as a member of the World Trade Organization – specifically the national treatment obligations under Article III:4 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994. For this reason, B.C.'s discriminatory program must be modified to allow equal access for imported wines.
California wine represents 85 percent of U.S. wine production and 90 percent of U.S. exports, contributing over $114 billion annually to the U.S. economy and generating 786,000 jobs nationwide. U.S. wine exports reached $1.61 billion in winery revenues in 2015, a 7.6 percent increase from 2014. Canada is the #1 export country for California wines, accounting for $461 million, 29 percent of the value of U.S. wine exports in 2015. California is the most popular import table wine category in Canada and in B.C.
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