Australia takes Canada to WTO over 'arbitrary' wine import restrictions

Australia takes Canada to WTO over 'arbitrary' wine import restrictions

This meant imported wine was sold in a separate section and cash register at a grocery store, unlike local varieties which retail openly on shop shelves.

AUSTRALIA today said it was taking legal action against Canada at the WTO over "arbitrary and disadvantageous" restrictions against imported wine, expanding on a similar USA complaint.

Vietnam has filed a complaint to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the United States' anti-dumping measures on Vietnamese fish export, said the Ministry of Industry and Trade. One of the key strengths of the WTO is its disputes system, which ensures WTO Members comply fully with their commitments.

"Australia strongly supports the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its heart".

The complaint comes two years after Australia pressed Canada to lower trade barriers on the wine industry like it had done for the European Union.

Minster Ciobo said he would prefer to have resolved the issue bilaterally, but that "it is appropriate to commence dispute proceedings given the lack of progress".

Mr Ciobo denied the action is connected to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's snub of other world leaders during talks on a new Trans-Pacific Partnership deal at APEC last November.

But Ciobo said the Australian complaint was unrelated to Trudeau's actions at the summit, although he conceded it was "disappointing" the Canadian leader did not sign up to an agreement on the TPP, which now involves 11 countries after the United States withdrew past year.

After that, Australia could ask the WTO to adjudicate, with a view to forcing Canada to change its laws or risk trade sanctions.

Despite a growth in sales to China, now the top export destination, and to Hong Kong, Australian wine sales overall fell from $2.5 billion in 2007 to $1.7 billion in 2016.

"Australia is the fifth-ranked country of origin, with a 10 per cent total volume share of the Canadian market behind wines from the United States, Canada, Italy, and France". In recent years, the liquor boards have introduced a number of measures that discriminate in favour of locally produced wine. "This system provides a substantial benefit to BC wines".

Australia has seen exports of bottled wine to Canada nearly halved between 2007 and 2016, although sales to Britain and the United States, once its top export markets, have fallen by even more.

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