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BC Wine Trade Dispute Expands

As reported earlier in numerous posts, the BC \”wine in grocery\” model has triggered an international trade dispute with numerous countries joining the challenge. It is now apparent that the dispute has expanded beyond the original complaint to include a long list of preferential policies as well as those from other provinces. A couple of documents (trade deficit comments and NAFTA comments) filed in relation to the U.S. dispute indicate that the U.S. industry wishes to include challenges to B.C.\’s policies related to grocery stores, liquor board markup exemptions, direct delivery, VQA rebates, distribution system advantages, farmers\’ markets, and NAFTA\’s retail store exemptions. The policies of other provinces are also included, particularly those of Ontario and Quebec. As such, the dispute has now extended to issues far beyond the original grocery issue – and it would seem likely that the other countries may also raise similar concerns. 

In addition, the new U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, recently indicated (see video here starting at the 1 hour 4 minute mark) that he considered this to be a \”very serious\” and \”extraordinary\” problem for which there was \”no justification\”. He also indicated that he was \”very pro-enforcement\” and would either refer the dispute to a full WTO dispute panel or would include it in the upcoming NAFTA re-negotiation. This topic will be the subject of a presentation by myself as part of the Wine Talks forum in Penticton at Okanagan College on Monday evening at 6 pm.

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