U.S. goes to World Trade Organization over B.C. only wine policies

WASHINGTON _ The United States has asked the World Trade Organization to establish a dispute settlement panel over what it says are unfair regulations on the sale of wine in British Columbia grocery stores.

The U.S. trade representative’s office claims provincial regulations discriminate against American and other imported wines by allowing only B.C. wines to be sold on grocery store shelves.

U.S. trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer says in a news release that Canada is an important market for U.S. winemakers and the discriminatory regulations implemented by B.C. are unacceptable.

American Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says in the release that the discrimination against U.S. wine is unfair and cannot be tolerated.

The U.S. says the provincial regulations appear to breach Canada’s World Trade Organization commitments and have adversely affected U.S. wine producers.

The office of the trade representative says U.S. wine exports to B.C. last year totalled $56 million, a 10 per cent share of the market.