The dispute is over where imported wine can be displayed in British Columbia's grocery stores.
The quarrel between the countries stems from a 2015 regulation, which stipulates that in British Columbia grocery stores, imported wine must be sold in a "store within a store,” according to CNBC, that employs a separate cash register from the main shop, where the domestic bottles are sold. The first complaint against the strict rule was filed under President Obama; the Trump administration has now filed another complaint.
In that complaint, the U.S. argues that “The [British Columbia] wine measures provide advantages to [British Columbia] wine through the granting of exclusive access to a retail channel of selling wine on grocery store shelves. The [British Columbia] measures appear to discriminate on their face against imported wine by allowing only [British Columbia] wine to be sold on regular grocery store shelves…”
Sounds as though selling only Canadian wine on the main store shelves gives those bottles an unfair advantage, leaving wine from other countries out in the cold.
The European Union and Argentina are the largest and second largest importers of wine to Canada, so it makes that these countries would also want a seat the negotiations table. One study CNBC cites found that Canadian wine only accounts for around 30 percent of the country’s total wine sales.
In a statement issued this month, the European Union wrote that British Columbia’s policy may have “substantial impact on the sale and consequently on the importation of EU wine into British Columbia.”
Usually held in Geneva, these so-called consultations often resolve in favor of the country that issued the complaint, which means that on your next visit to British Columbia, you may find your favorite bottle of California wine in equal standing on the grocery store shelves with its Canadian cousins.