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I attended the Conference on the European Union - Canada Relationship yesterday in Vancouver which was very well attended by those seeking to determine the scope and impact of a possible EU-Canada Trade Pact for which negotations have just commenced. The EU trade officials made it clear that wine and beer has been a trade irritant in the past and would certainly be included in any trade deal. Indeed, the EU's chief negotiator, Mauro Petriccione, made it clear that "when we say the agreement will be comprehensive, we mean it". The negotiations are hoping to conclude a deal within 2 years.

The impact of the negotiations and any prospective trade deal on British Columbia's wine industry could be significant for VQA producers as there are currently preferential treatments given to BC VQA wine in respect of both pricing (application of liquor board markup) and distribution within the province. I'll write a more in-depth analysis on this subject in due course but there could be problems and issues with both the VQA rebate system and preferential distribution channels. Although the dollar amounts related to these programs are small in the grand scheme of things, they are likely significant to VQA producers.