A dozen grocery stores around B.C. will have a VQA-only wine licence.

B.C. wine in grocery stores target of U.S. trade complaint

Californian vintners argue exclusive access for B.C. VQA wines is 'discriminatory.'

American wine makers want to overturn the province’s decision to let select grocery stores exclusively sell B.C. VQA wine, arguing shoppers should be able to buy international wines as well in those outlets.

If successful, the challenge under international trade agreements could transform or even put a cork in the centrepiece of the B.C. government’s liquor policy reforms.

The California Wine Institute submitted its complaints to the Office of the United States Trade Representative in an Oct. 27 letter stating that the regulations were “blatantly discriminatory.”

The B.C. government announced in 2014 that as of April 1, 2015, grocery stores would be able to apply for a permit to sell B.C. wine on their shelves under one of two different models.

A VQA-only licence allows stores to bypass the rule they be at least one kilometre from liquor stores, as well as avoiding the ‘store within a store’ model set out for non-B.C. wine.

California Wine Institute vice-president and international trade counsel Tom Lafaille said the organization has opposed the regulations since their implementation.

“We were assured by the B.C. government and industry that imported wines would still be able to be sold in B.C. grocery stores,” Lafaille said, adding that this two-part model doesn’t satisfy that promise.

“We’re working with industry and governments… this is an international effort to free up grocery store shelves for non-B.C. wine.”

The VQA-only permit goes against Canada’s international trade commitments, said Lafaille. The submission to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative noted that the U.S. and Argentina, Australia, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand and the United Nations filed formal objections with the B.C. government challenging the new system on April 29, 2016.

While the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement has been called into question by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to renegotiate or rip it up, U.S. wine lobbyists aren’t relying solely on NAFTA.

The letter stated that as new regulations appear to favour B.C. wine over imported wine, the nations question “whether they are consistent with 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.”

But the province disagrees.

“To our knowledge, no regulatory tariff action has taken place and no trade injunctions has been filed,” said Ministry of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction communications director Bill Anderson.

“The B.C. wine on shelves mode will never see more than 60 partners and the liquor licences that are in these grocery stores are the same VQA licences that have existed in B.C. for years.”

Currently, Anderson added that only 12 grocery stores – six per cent of the total amount in B.C. – will have VQA-only licences, including one in South Surrey.

 

 

@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

 

 

Just Posted

Who will fill the Greyhound void in the Kootenays?

Minister Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West sees opportunity for local operators

Equipment lost in arson at Greenwood landfill

The cost of replacing equipment is expected to be significant.

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email editor@trailtimes.ca

Updated: Coroner investigating death of Trail man

A complicated recovery was required for a man who died in a fall above the Trail hospital

Denesiuk announces South Okanagan—West Kootenay Liberal candidacy

Connie Densiuk wants to build on growth from 2015 election

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

Special Olympics athletes take on BC Games during Global Day of Inclusion

Twenty-five athletes and nine coaches are here in Cowichan Valley during the 50th anniversary

Scammers dressed as Mounties threaten to arrest senior if she doesn’t cough up cash

Pair of fraudulent officers threaten to arrest 90-year-old woman

Fundraiser launched to help mom of French jogger detained after accidentally crossing U.S border

Cedella Roman, 19, was detained in America after accidentally crossing the border

Trump slams Federal Reserve rate hikes

Fed raised benchmark rate for a second time this year in June, and projects two more hikes to come

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Friday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

UPDATED: 1,500 residents on evacuation alert as Peachland under state of emergency

The Mount Eneas wildfire has forced an evacuation alert of 596 properties

Police to provide update on case against alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur

McArthur worked as a landscaper, allegedly concealed the remains of seven men in planters

Premiers to wrap up 2 days of meetings at New Brunswick seaside resort

Meetings held in the scenic seaside town of St. Andrews on Thursday focused on trade

Most Read