The federal government has initiated formal World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement action against Canada’s discriminatory measures affecting Australian wine.
Australia has commenced formal consultations with Canada regarding measures Australia believes impose arbitrary and disadvantageous restrictions on the sale of imported wine in Canadian grocery stores, inconsistent with Canada’s WTO obligations.
This step responds to concerns from the Australian wine industry regarding the Canadian measures, which negatively impact trade with Australia’s fourth largest export market for wine, currently valued at $185 million.
Winemaker’s Federation of Australia (WFA), Chief Executive, Tony Battaglene, said the action is the first formal step in seeking to resolve long-standing Canadian measures that discriminate against Australian wine imports.
“We respect the Canadian wine industry, but we are seeking a level playing field to ensure we can maximise our opportunities in this key market”
“Canada is Australia’s fourth most valuable export market at around $190 million and remains a very important destination for Australian wine,” he said.
“Australia is the fifth-ranked country of origin, with a 10% total volume share of the Canadian market behind wines from the United States, Canada, Italy, and France.”
“Wine sales in Canada are controlled by provincial liquor boards. In recent years, the liquor boards have introduced a number of measures that discriminate in favour of locally produced wine.”
“We respect the Canadian wine industry, but we are seeking a level playing field to ensure we can maximise our opportunities in this key market,” Battaglene said.
The WTO is comprised of a rules-based system that monitors fair and non-discriminatory regulations internationally, and plays a key role for the Australian Government to advocate for Australian producers and Canadian consumers.
On January 18 2017, the United States launched its own WTO trade dispute settlement action against Canada regarding ‘Measures Governing the Sale of Wine in Grocery Stores’ which Australia joined as a third-party observer.
The new Australian-led WTO action addresses these same concerns as well as others across the Canadian provinces.
The Turnbull Coalition Government said it strongly supports the multilateral trading system, but the lack of process on this issue has required action.
Australia last initiated formal WTO action in 2003.