Australia is pushing for a liberalisation of Canadas trading restrictions on imported wine

Australia is pushing for a liberalisation of Canada's trading restrictions on imported wine

Australia is taking Canada to the World Trade Organisation in an attempt to liberalise wine trading restrictions in four of Canada's provinces.

The Australian Government has argued that wine distribution, licensing and sales rules in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia discriminate against imported wine, breaking the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade (GATT). Formal talks with the Canadian Government were requested by Australian authorities yesterday.

In British Columbia, Australia is upset that standard grocery stores can stock the province's wines, but not imported lines. In Ontario, Australia is contesting how only Ontarian wine producers can deliver wine direct to licensed establishments, while foreign producers must deliver them via the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

In Quebec, the province's small-scale wine producers have special rights to deliver direct to grocery and convenience stores. Finally, Nova Scotia wine controls allow province-made wines to be sold at lower prices than imported wines.

If talks fail to resolve the dispute within 60 days, Australia can demand that a disputes settlement panel be formed, which may require Canada to reform its provinces' wine trading systems.

Canada is Australia's fourth-largest export market for wine, with annual sales in the region of CAD190m (US$153m).

To read Australia's formal communication with the WTO, click here.

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