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U.S. Challenging Canadian Measures Discriminating Against Imported Wine

Monday, January 23, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has launched a World Trade Organization case challenging regulations maintained by the Canadian province of British Columbia that exclude imported wine from being sold on regular grocery store shelves. USTR asserts that these “discriminatory regulations … intentionally undermine free and fair competition and appear to breach Canada’s commitments as a WTO member.”

A USTR press release states that British Columbia amended its regulations in April 2015 to permit the sale of wine in grocery stores. However, these regulations provide that only BC wine may be sold on grocery store shelves, whereas imported wine may only be sold in a “wine store” within the grocery store that is physically separate, has controlled access, and has separate cash registers. According to USTR, public reports indicate that a number of grocery stores are selling BC wine on their shelves but that none appear to be selling wine under the more costly “store within a store” option.

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