BC Liberals uncorked a bottle they can’t get the cork back into with their BC-only wine in grocery stores, as the U.S., under the new trade agreement, have received equal access. In an interesting turn of events, the Canadian government has agreed to eliminate the previous BC Liberal government policy that allowed only B.C. wines to be sold in grocery stores. The new rules that will allow U.S. wine into B.C. grocery stores — part of the new NAFTA deal just finalized, now dubbed the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement — will come into effect no later than Nov. 1, 2019. “Specifically, B.C. shall eliminate measures which allow only B.C. wine to be sold on regular grocery store shelves while imported wine may be sold in grocery stores only through a so-called ‘store within a store’ and such contested measures shall not be replicated,” notes a letter addressed to Chrystia Freehand, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, from U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. This has massive and perhaps crippling implications for some in B.C.’s wine industry. The story began several years ago when the BC Liberals moved to allow B.C. wines into select grocery stores. At the time, many argued this move would have the implications that we are seeing today. The losers, now, are the small to medium sized wineries in the Okanagan that can’t take this hit. How do they compete with products coming from other jurisdictions? Further, this move strengthens the argument of all countries around the world who want to follow the U.S.’s lead. Some might say that grocery retailers can simply prohibit U.S. products from their shelves, but that’s a move likely to be fought — and won. Soon after news broke about the U.S. wine deal, B.C. Premier John Horgan released a statement. “B.C. worked closely with the federal government and agreed to amend the measures relating to wine in grocery stores,” said Horgan. “This policy has been controversial for some time. We knew this was a problem that we were going to have to fix. We will continue to work with the Canadian government to resolve it in a manner that best protects our wine industry.” It will be interesting to see how this situation unfolds, but regardless of how it plays out, the loser is B.C.’s wine industry.
Source: Rising Tide Consultants

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