The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia has welcomed the announcement from Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steven Ciobo, that Australia would progress to the next step in its World Trade Organisation dispute settlement action, against Canada’s discriminatory measures affecting Australian wine.
Australia launched formal WTO consultations against Canada in January – the first time Australia has initiated formal proceeding in the WTO since 2003 – in the hope it would remove its restrictions on the sale of imported wine in grocery stores and give Australian wines equal access to the Canadian market.
A statement from Mr Ciobo’s office said the government was “disappointed” Canada had not taken action to respond to the concerns, “which unfairly restricted Australia’s wine trade and was inconsistent with Canada’s WTO obligations”.
Australia has requested the WTO establish a panel to resolve the dispute with Canada.
Canada is Australia’s fourth largest export market for wine in volume and value, worth $187 million.
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WFA chief executive Tony Battaglene said the request to establish a panel was a vital step to ensuring meaningful outcomes are achieved.
“Canada is an extremely important market for Australian wine,” he said.
“We need to ensure a level trading environment to allow competition for all wine producers.
“The Australian wine industry does not oppose a helping hand for the Canadian wine producers.
“However, such help should not discriminate against sales of imported Australian wine. The Canadian consumer deserves a better deal than that.”