The US claims Canada has broken its obligations under the WTOs General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade

The US claims Canada has broken its obligations under the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade

The US Government is seeking WTO action in an ongoing row over "discriminatory" measures taken against imported wines by the Canadian province of British Columbia.

The US has requested a formal World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel against Canada, in an effort to ensure equal access for its country's wines to the province's grocery shelves. The move follows the lodging of a complaint to the WTO early last year after BC set up licences for grocery stores that allowed the off-premise outlets to sell wine. The licences specify, however, that only wine from the province may be sold in the stores.

Australia has also called in the WTO over the trading restrictions.

According to the Wine Institute, the trade association for California's wineries, the province is "effectively blocking BC shoppers from purchasing imported wines".

Welcoming the US Government move, Wine Institute chairman Bobby Koch said: "Wine Institute greatly appreciates the Trade Representative's continued efforts to end these discriminatory practices and hold Canada accountable for their WTO obligations.

"Canadian consumers should have the same access to the vast array of the world's great wines."

Canada is the leading export market for California wines, with sales reaching US$444m in 2017, while California is the most popular imported table wine category in BC, according to the Wine Institute.

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