Vineyards near Okanagan Lake
Stan Jones | Dreamstime

Trump Administration Targets Canadian Wine Sales Law

The government has revived a complaint filed with the World Trade Organization
Vineyards near Okanagan Lake
Stan Jones | Dreamstime

Vineyards near Okanagan Lake, located in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia’s premiere grape growing region.

Prominent non-drinker and non-winery-owner (despite what he claims) Donald Trump has picked a fight with Canada — a major market for American wine, ranking second only to the European Union in imports — over wine sales regulations in British Columbia.

While the U.S. is in the process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, the Trump administration has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization about a law in British Columbia — the country's second-largest wine region after Ontario's Niagara Peninsula — that allows only that province's wines to be sold in grocery stores. Wines from elsewhere in Canada and imports from the U.S. and other wine regions are currently relegated to separate stores, often adjacent to grocery outlets.

The complaint had originally been filed in the last days of the Obama administration, and has only just now been revived.

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Bryan Mercurio, a WTO expert from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told CNN Money that the issue was "low-hanging fruit" and that, since the British Columbian policy clearly violated WTO rules, "the U.S. has a very high chance of success."