Former B. C. attorney general Suzanne Anton celebrates with Richmond MLA John Yap (left) and store executives, announcing B.C. wine sales in grocery stores, 2014. (Black Press files)

NAFTA deal ends preference for B.C. wine in grocery stores in 2019

Dispute settlement panel has supported Canada in softwood talks

B.C.’s move to allow preference for wine to be sold in grocery stores is one of the casualties of the revised North American Free Trade Agreement.

The deal reached over the weekend between Canadian and U.S. negotiators means the preference for B.C. wines comes to an end by Nov. 1, 2019, according to a letter released with the text of the new agreement. The letter is from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“Specifically, B.C. shall eliminate the measures which allow only B.C. wine to be sold on regular grocery store shelves while imported wine may be sold in grocery stores only through a so-called ‘store within a store,’ and such contested measures shall not be replicated,” the letter states.

Preference for B.C. wines in grocery stores was allowed in 2015 by the B.C. Liberal government, part of a series of moves to modernize liquor policy in the province.

The alcoholic beverages section of the new agreement does not affect stand-alone wine stores such as those selling VQA wines from B.C.

The Canadian government made concessions on U.S. access to the Canadian dairy products market, protected by high tariffs and marketing boards within the country. In exchange, the U.S. dropped its objections to continuing the NAFTA dispute resolution panel, known as Chapter 19, which has ruled in Canada’s favour in previous disputes over softwood lumber.

RELATED: Lumber trade ‘injury’ upheld by U.S.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa Monday that after months of stalled talks as the U.S. negotiated with Mexico alone, the agreement came together quickly at the end.

“I think one of the moments for me was when I realized we had an intact Chapter 19,” Trudeau said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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