Background

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has requested that the World Trade Organization establish a dispute settlement panel to examine regulations maintained by the Canadian province of British Columbia that exclude imported wine from being sold on regular grocery store shelves.

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, a number of grocery stores are selling BC wine on their shelves but none appear to be selling wine under the more costly latter option. USTR notes that in 2017 U.S. wine had a 10 percent share of the BC market.

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