GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Trade Organization set up a dispute panel on Friday to rule on a U.S. complaint against restrictions in Canada’s province of British Columbia on wine sales in grocery stores, a WTO official said.
In line with WTO rules, the decision was taken after Canada made its second request at a closed-door meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body.
The U.S. delegation said that British Columbia’s regulations exclude all imported wine from grocery store shelves and violated WTO rules on non-discrimination, trade officials said.
The restrictions limited sales opportunities for American wine in Canada and gave a substantial competitive advantage to local wines, it said.
Canada questioned the commercial rationale for the U.S. move, noting that imported wines account for around 90 percent of all wine sales and there were nearly 1,000 points of sale for imported wine in the province.
The European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile were among those reserving their third party rights in the WTO dispute.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, editing by Larry King