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

Green Team tackles weeds in North Saanich

Greater Victoria group working to connect people with local green groups

Complaint filed against B.C. naturopath who treated boy with rabid dog saliva

BC Naturopathic Association questions Dr. Anke Zimmermann’s conduct on recent treatments

New scholarship a memorial to Tally-Ho’s Larry Friedlander

Victoria carriage tours company helping youth participate in equine studies

Girls soccer team kicks off at Sooke school

Squad hits pitch for first time eight years

UPDATE: Two rescued after falling from ferry at Swartz Bay

One crew member is injured after rescue boat mechanism fails, causing it to fall from the ferry

VIDEO: Work is play for this B.C. avalanche rescue dog

CARDA certified Joss’s Job is to save lives — but to her, it’s all a game

Pedestrian struck at Sidney intersection

One person appeared conscious as they were treated by paramedics

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

B.C. First Nations get clarity on fishing rights from top court

Nations call federal government to settle fishing rights ‘within the true meaning of reconciliation’

Judge to give decision Friday in Gabriel Klein ‘fitness’ hearing

Man accused in Abbotsford school stabbing could have trial delayed due to mental-health issues

Province steps up to help Catalyst Paper in war against U.S. duties

Paper company hit with more than 28 per cent in American tariffs

Government has no solution for dangerous stretch of Highway 1

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok met with the Ministry to talk about the dangers around Highway 1

B.C. couple caught in Kootenay Pass avalanche

Just after the ministry carried out avalanche control and opened the highway a Rossland couple was almost swept away by snow

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

Most Read