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WTO to rule on Canadian wine sale measures, U.S. fish duties

Staff Writer |
At a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), WTO members agreed to requests from the United States for a dispute panel to address measures governing the sale of wine in Canada and from Vietnam for a panel to examine U.S. anti-dumping measures on Vietnamese fish fillets.

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Members also continued discussions on matters related to the functioning of the WTO’s Appellate Body.

The United States reiterated that it had serious concerns with regulations in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) governing the sale of wine in grocery stores.

The US said the BC regulations exclude all imported wine from grocery store shelves, an important retail channel for wine sales in the province, and were inconsistent with WTO non-discrimination rules.

These restrictions limit sales opportunities for US wine in Canada and provide a substantial competitive advantage for BC wines. The U.S. was thus submitting its second request for the establishment of a panel.

Canada regretted the U.S. decision to submit its second request and questioned the commercial rationale for the action, noting that imported wines account for around 90% of all wine sales in Canada and that there were almost a thousand points of sale for imported wine in BC alone.

Nevertheless, Canada said it was prepared to defend the measures before a panel.

The DSB agreed to the establishment of a panel. The European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Chinese Taipei, Russia, Argentina, Chile, China, Korea, India and Mexico reserved their third party rights to participate in the proceedings.

Vietnam said it did not wish to repeat the points it raised when it first requested a panel on the matter at the DSB meeting in June other than to note that the claims in the consultations had been subject to prior WTO dispute settlement and that each claim had been resolved in a manner favorable to Vietnam.

At a time when the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism is already overburdened, Vietnam said the case should be settled without going to a panel. However, Vietnam has not received any positive response from the United States to resolve the matter, prompting it to request the establishment of a panel for the second time.


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