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

Update on Port McNeill’s Beach Drive landslide

Port McNeill has a history of landslides, due to the steep embankment above Beach Drive.

Port Alice loses four volunteer fire fighters

The village has only nine active members left.

Port Hardy Fire Rescue gains eight new recruits

Port Hardy Fire Rescue is still accepting applications for more personnel to join the team.

7 Mile Landfill Sundays not profitable

RDMW to reconsider September Sunday hours

Cottonwood tree causes North Island power outage

BC Hydro’s local crew responded to the outage immediately with a ground patrol to identify the outage

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

B.C. NDP convention set for Victoria

Premier, federal leader Jagmeet Singh to add energy

Ninth annual Mount Waddington Highland Dance Association’s Fall Competition results

During intermission, the audience was treated to a traditional First Nations welcome dance.

A Brush with Henschel: A last blaze of colour

In autumn, the predominant colour varies all the way from a light lemon yellow to a rusty orange.

Silver Creek farm search expands north

RCMP were seen collecting evidence three kilometres north of the farm where human remains were found

INTERACTIVE MAP: Follow the 2017 Tour de Rock

Follow the Tour de Rock, as they pedal more than 1,000 kilometres fundraising to combat paediatric cancer

Bantams go 1-1 on the road against Clippers and Bulldogs

Coach Ryan Handley confirmed the Eagles will be playing in VIAHA’s tier 2 division this season.

VIDEO: Motorcycle catches fire in Nanaimo traffic

Motorcyclist takes fast action to get burning bike off the road along the old Island Highway

Nanaimo man assaulted, tied up and robbed at his home

Incident occurred about 7 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23 at a home on Beverly Drive

Most Read