Australian wine agreement reached with Canada

10 April, 2019 by Andy Young

Australia is claiming the win in its trade battle with Canada after agreement was reached to remove discriminatory measures impeding Australian wine sales in British Columbia.

The Agreement reached by Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, will see the removal of conditions in the market, which have restricted access to retail shelf space for imported Australian wines by 1 November 2019.

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It is expected that with agreement reached with British Columbia, this will pave the way for the other Canadian provinces to remove their barriers. Last year Australia launched action against Canada’s discriminatory measures in the World Trade Organisation, claiming they breached trade rules and impacted Australian winemakers.

Tony Battaglene, Australian Grape & Wine Chief Executive, welcomed the agreement, saying: “This Agreement is an important step in removing a range of trade barriers in the Canadian market and we are delighted in both the leadership shown by the Trade Minister and the cooperation of his Canadian counterpart to progress this resolution’.

“All we are seeking is a level playing field on which to compete and the opportunity to provide Canadian consumers the greater access and choice in wines. While the WTO case will continue, we remain open to resolving the remaining issues outside the process and would encourage the other provinces to follow the lead of British Columbia.”

Senator Birmingham said the agreement will give Australia’s wine exporters access to retail shelf space and enable them to compete on a level playing field with Canadian wine.

“This is good news for our wine exporters,” the Senator said. “With the TPP-11 eliminating all tariffs on Australian wine exports to Canada, this is a market with huge potential growth for our wine industry.

“The combined impact of the TPP and the resolution of this trade dispute over British Columbia measures means that Australian wine will be on more shelves with lower tariffs in a Canadian province with a population in excess of five million people.”

The Senator confirmed the WTO action remains in place as the Government continues negotiations to get Canada’s remaining provinces to remove their measures, although he called this deal “a very useful precedent”.

Canada is a highly valuable market for Australian wine, worth $208m in 2018 and Battaglene said “retail grocery sales are an increasingly important sales channel”.