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Canada's wine row with Australia rumbles on as disputes panel demand goes unheard

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Canada is resisting attempts by Australia to set up a WTO disputes panel in the countries' row over perceived wine trading restrictions in the North American country.

In January, the Australian Government called in the WTO, claiming that the rules for wine distribution, licensing and sales in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia discriminate against imported wine. Australia has subsequently demanded the formation of a disputes settlement body (DSB) at the WTO to resolve the matter.

At DSB meeting earlier this week, Canada claimed that negotiations between the two governments since January have been inconclusive and that more time is needed for consultations. However, a representative of the Australian Government told this week's meeting: "No concrete steps have been taken to date to respond to our long-standing concerns."

Canada representatives said its Government was "deeply disappointed" by Australia's move, claiming that Australia's Government had not properly identified concerns about Canada's wine trading system. The concerns had been couched in "broad and vague terms", according to Canada.

Should Australia make a second request for the establishment of a panel at the next DSB meeting, then one will be set up regardless. The DSB will convene again at the end of September.

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Sectors: Legislation, Wine

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