Government starts WTO action against Canada's wine restrictions

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Ciobo's statement continued: "This step responds to concerns from the Australian wine industry regarding the Canadian measures, which negatively impact trade with Australia's fourth largest export market for wine, now valued at $185 million".

Australia filed a trade complaint against Canada on Tuesday, accusing the North American nation of placing "discriminatory" regulations on the sale of wine imported from overseas.

"This step responds to concerns from the Australian wine industry regarding the Canadian measures, which negatively impact trade with Australia's fourth largest export market for wine, now valued at $185 million", Ciobo said in a statement today.

In October, the United States accused British Columbia of giving an unfair advantage to local vineyards by giving their wine an exclusive retail channel in grocery stores and cutting out US competition.

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Australia's complaint, published by the WTO on Tuesday, expanded the USA argument, saying that not only British Columbia but also Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, as well as the Canadian government, had policies on wine that broke WTO rules.

The Australian government is looking to commence a formal consultation over "Canada's discriminatory measures affecting Australian wine" - namely, restrictions on the sale of imported wine in Canadian grocery stores, as well as extra fees relating to imported wine. "We know we have some of the best wine in the world and I want to ensure that Australian wines have their very best chance of reaping the benefits of export sales in a market like Canada".

"Australia strongly supports the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its heart".

"Canada's wine market is worth approximately $7 billion", he was quoted as saying. The new Australian-led WTO action addresses these same concerns as well as others across the Canadian provinces.

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Under WTO rules, Canada has 60 days to settle the dispute with Australia.

However, Ciobo said the Australian complaint was unrelated to Trudeau's actions at the summit, although he conceded it was "disappointing" the Canadian leader did not sign up to an agreement on the TPP, which now involves 11 countries after the USA withdrew past year.

The trade dispute came a day before Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, with the survival of the TPP one of the key items on their agenda.

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