The Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo, has said that the Government has taken the next steps in its World Trade Organisation (WTO) against Canada’s discriminatory measures affecting Australian wine.
Earlier this year Australia launched formal WTO consultations against Canada in a bid to remove the country’s restrictions on the sale of imported wine in grocery stores. The move aimed to give Australian wines equal access to the Canadian market and it was the first time since 2003 Australia had initiated formal WTO action.
Minister Ciobo said: “We are disappointed that Canada has not taken concrete action to respond to our concerns, which unfairly restricts Australia’s wine trade, and is inconsistent with Canada’s WTO obligations.
“Australia has now requested the WTO establish a panel to resolve our dispute with Canada. Wine is an important export for Australia and helps create and support Australian jobs. The Turnbull Government will stand up for our producers and not allow other countries to discriminate against us, costing us exports and potentially jobs.”
Canada is Australia’s fourth largest export market for wine, currently valued at $187m and the Government’s move has been welcomed by the Winemakers Federation of Australia, (WFA), with Chief Executive Tony Battaglene praising the Government’s firm action.
“The Australian Government and Minister Ciobo have continued their strong leadership and investment in industry priorities,” Battaglene said.
“The request to establish a panel is a vital step to ensuring meaningful outcomes are achieved and highlights this and the value of the WTO system in resolving trade disputes.’
“Canada is an extremely important market for Australian wine. 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. We believe they add diversity and colour to the global wine sector. However, such help should not discriminate against sales of imported Australian wine. The Canadian consumer deserves a better deal than that.”
Both the Government and WFA have said that they value a strong bilateral relationship with Canada and both parties remain open to further negotiations with Canada to discuss a resolution and ensure Australian wine producers’ rights to trade fairly are maintained.