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Australia and Canada sidestep a wine brawl

Australia and Canada sidestep a wine brawl

The Canadian government has backed down on restrictions on the sale of Australian wine.

Australia launched action against Canada in the World Trade Organisation last year, alleging its national and several provincial governments had imposed extra taxes and mark-ups on imported wine or restricted access to Australian wine. British Columbia went as as far as banning imported wine being sold at grocery stores.

However, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has negotiated a peace deal with Canada, which has agreed to lift restrictions in British Columbia from November 1.

The government is still fighting trade restrictions imposed on exports in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia provinces.

“The removal of this discriminatory trade barrier will allow our wine exporters to access retail shelves and compete on a level playing field with Canadian wine in the province of British Colombia,” Senator Birmingham said.

“This is good news for our wine exporters. With the TPP-11 eliminating all tariffs on Australian wine exports to Canada, this is a market with huge potential growth for our wine industry.

“The combined impact of the TPP and the resolution of this trade dispute over British Columbia measures means that Australian wine will be on more shelves with lower tariffs in a Canadian province with a population in excess of five million people.”

Australian Grape & Wine has welcomed the announcement. 

Tony Battaglene, Australian Grape & Wine Chief Executive said: “This Agreement is an important step in removing a range of trade barriers in the Canadian market and we are delighted in both the leadership shown by the Trade Minister and the cooperation of his Canadian counterpart to progress this resolution’.

“Canada is a highly valuable market for Australian wine, worth $208 million in 2018 and retail grocery sales are an increasingly important sales channel.

“All we are seeking is a level playing field on which to compete and the opportunity to provide Canadian consumers the greater access and choice in wines. While the WTO case will continue, we remain open to resolving the remaining issues outside the process and would encourage the other provinces to follow the lead of British Colombia.”