October 2, 2017 / 3:42 PM / a year ago

United States renews WTO complaint over Canadian wine retailing

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are pictured in Geneva, Switzerland, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States has kept trade friction with Canada simmering by filing a new version of a trade complaint over Canadian wine retailing, a document published by the World Trade Organization showed on Monday.

Trade relations, already frayed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), took a nosedive last week when the U.S. Commerce Department slapped anti-subsidy duties on Bombardier Inc’s CSeries jets.

The new WTO complaint reheats a dispute that the United States launched in January, days before Trump took office, challenging Canada over rules for wine retailing in grocery stores in the province of British Columbia.

The text of the new complaint, dated Sept. 28 and circulated among WTO members on Monday, was unchanged from the version in January except for some changes to reflect updates of Canadian regulations.

The United States never pursued the January complaint at the WTO. By submitting a fresh version, it has effectively restarted the clock on the dispute process, giving Canada 60 days to settle out of court or face litigation.

The complaint accuses Canada of breaking WTO rules by giving unfair advantage to wine from British Columbia (BC) because the province’s wine gets exclusive access to a retail channel on grocery store shelves, cutting out U.S. competitors.

“The BC measures appear to discriminate on their face against imported wine by allowing only BC 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’,” the U.S. complaint said.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Catherine Evans

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