United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that the Obama Administration has launched a new trade enforcement action against Canada at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Today’s action challenges British Columbia’s (BC) regulations that discriminate against the sale of U.S. wine in grocery stores. These regulations appear to breach Canada’s WTO commitments and have adversely impacted U.S. wine producers. Today’s action marks the 26th trade enforcement challenge the Obama Administration has launched at the WTO. The United States has won every one of those complaints that has been decided so far.
The BC regulations being challenged by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) discriminate against U.S. and other imported wine by allowing only BC wine to be sold on regular grocery store shelves. These regulations exclude all imported wine from this new and growing retail channel for wine sales in BC. Such discriminatory measures limit sales opportunities for U.S. wine producers and provide a substantial competitive advantage for BC wine.
“American winemakers produce some of the highest-quality, most popular wines in the world. 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,” said Ambassador Froman. “The discriminatory regulations implemented by British Columbia intentionally undermine free and fair competition, and appear to breach Canada’s commitments as a WTO member. Canada and all Canadian provinces, including BC, must play by the rules. This Administration is continuing to fight to level the playing field for American producers and workers, so that we can continue to grow our economy and support quality jobs across the United States.”
"American winemakers have found increasing success in export markets like Canada," said Acting Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse. "However, we could be doing even better. In British Columbia the local wines get an unfair advantage because they can be sold on grocery store shelves, while U.S. wines cannot. The United States simply seeks equal opportunities to market our wines, consistent with Canada's international obligations."
The discriminatory BC regulations negatively affect U.S. winemakers by effectively denying them access to BC grocery store shelves, a new and growing retail channel.