Australia files WTO complaint over Canada wine sales

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 08:56 GMT, Jan 18, 2018 |

Australia has filed a trade complaint that accuses Canada of placing “discriminatory” rules on the sales of imported wine.

The formal objection, lodged with the World Trade Organization (WTO), follows a similar complaint made by the US last year.

Australia says regulations in Canada unfairly disadvantage wines produced overseas.

Canada is Australia’s fourth-biggest wine market.

“In this case we’ve got a number of provinces in Canada that are putting in place pro-protectionist policies,” Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“I’m not going to stand by and see Aussie exporters jeopardised.”

Like the US, Australia has protested against rules in the province of British Columbia, where local wines can be sold in grocery shops but imported wine must be sold in a “store within a store” with a separate cash register.

But Canberra’s objection also targets policies in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, as well as federal measures, which “appear to discriminate against imported wine”, allegedly in violation of a WTO agreement.

Those measures include higher price mark-ups for imported wines, as well as various other barriers to sale, the complaint says.

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

Australia’s WTO complaint is what is known as a request for consultations. If the issue is not settled within 60 days, Australia could ask for an adjudication by the WTO.

Last week, Canada accused the US of breaking international trade rules over how it investigates products for subsidies and below-cost sales.

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