NZ joins WTO wine complaint against Canada

Many Canadian wines from ontario and BC have won top world awards. Wines from nova Scotia on the east coast are also coming on stongly

NZ joins WTO wine complaint against Canada

The Turnbull coalition government has formally complained the World Trade Organization (WTO) about how Canada sells wine imported from Australia and other exporting countries.

Australia's complaint, published by the WTO on Tuesday, expanded the US argument, saying that not only British Columbia but also Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, as well as the Canadian government, had policies on wine that broke WTO rules.

Australia has seen exports of bottled wine to Canada nearly halve between 2007 and 2016, from $224 million to $119 million, although sales to Britain and the United States, once its top export markets, have fallen by even more.

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The Australian government is looking to commence a formal consultation over "Canada's discriminatory measures affecting Australian wine" - namely, restrictions on the sale of imported wine in Canadian grocery stores, as well as extra fees relating to imported wine.

In October, Washington accused the Canadian province of British Columbia of providing an unfair advantage to local vineyards by giving their wine an exclusive retail channel in grocery store shelves and cutting out USA competition.

According to The Australian, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo launched the WTO proceedings against Canada after bilateral talks between the two countries broke down.

Mr Ciobo said Canadian rules had the potential to threaten jobs in Australia.

However, Australia's objection also highlights Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, as well as federal measures that it felt "appear to discriminate against imported wine", and alleged the nation was in violation of WTO agreements by doing so.

The country is New Zealand's fourth-largest market for wine, with $107 million of exports in 2017 - behind only the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia.

"Wine sales in Canada are controlled by provincial liquor boards".

WTO consultations are the first stage in a dispute-settlement action.

Australia's complaint mirrors a similar dispute from the United States, revived by the country in late 2017.

The move comes amid concerns that Canada is seeking to curb access to its markets in the face of efforts to resuscitate the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership deal after the USA pulled out.

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