Australian Grape & Wine (AGW) has welcomed the “great work” of the Federal Government in settling the remaining issues in Australia’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) challenge to Canadian wine measures.

Under the settlement, Canada has agreed to the phased removal of discriminatory measures imposed by the province of Quebec, which disadvantaged Australian wine producers. The deal means Australian wines can now access the Canadian market on a level playing field.

AGW’s Chief Executive, Tony Battaglene, said: “This is the last piece of the puzzle for Australia’s WTO challenge of Canadian trading practices, resolving a range of discriminatory trading practices across British Columbia, Québec, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

“The Canadian wine export market is extremely important for Australian wine and it is vital that we work to harmonise trade as much as possible. The market is Australia’s fourth largest wine export market, valued at more than $190 million in 2020, and it’s certainly a market in which we are pursuing further growth.”

Battaglene added: “’But we need to be able to compete on a level playing field, and this is why it’s so important to have an independent umpire in the WTO. In this case, the rules-based system provided the opportunity for bilateral dialogue and led to a result which was fair to both Australian producers and their colleagues in Canada.

“We would like to acknowledge the great work of the Australian Government, and in particular the team at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who have worked tirelessly to resolve this issue.”

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said the settlement was an important victory for Australian wine makers and rules-based global trade.

“Removing these trade barriers will allow Australian wine makers to fairly compete for Canadian customers, and more customers means more sales and more jobs and growth in Australia,” Tehan said.

“Our success demonstrates the strength of the WTO dispute settlement system and underlines why Australia is working to reform the organisation to keep it relevant.

“Australia strongly supports the multilateral rules-based trading system, with the WTO at its core, and we will continue to work within that system to stand up for the rights of Australian exporters while resolving trade matters in a respectful manner.”

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the agreement brought to an end the dispute proceedings initiated by Australia.

“Canada is Australia’s fourth largest export market for wine, worth more than $192 million a year, so this is a big win for our wine producers,” he said.

“This successful outcome will deliver commercially-meaningful outcomes for Australian wine producers and is testament to our strong relationship with Canada.

“The agreement addresses our longstanding trade concerns and demonstrates the benefits of the rules-based trading system, and the WTO dispute settlement system in particular, as a means of resolving disputes between WTO Members.”

The Australian Government initiated dispute action in the WTO in 2018 against Canada’s discriminatory measures affecting Australian wine at the federal level and in four Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Australia and Canada reached settlement agreements in respect to British Colombia in April 2019, federal and Nova Scotia measures in June 2020, and for Ontario in July 2020.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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