November 7, 2013
US wine producers have become indirectly embroiled in a trade dispute between the US and Canada that could hamper access to their second biggest export market.
Canada’s agriculture minister, Gerry Ritz, warned this week that his country may impose ‘retaliatory tariffs’ on a range of US imports, including wine, if the US continues to ignore a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling in Canada’s favour.
A spokesperson for Ritz confirmed to decanter.com that higher wine tariffs are on the agenda after the US failed to change its country of origin labelling rules to comply with the WTO ruling. But, he said Canada would seek WTO approval before making a move.
The dispute puts US wineries in a difficult position, given Canada represents the second largest export market for US wines by value behind the European Union. Exports to Canada rose by 14% in 2012, to US$434m.
‘Trade wars benefit no one,’ said the California-based Wine Institute when contacted by decanter.com.
‘[We] strongly oppose Canada’s consideration of a tariff increase on US wines over a dispute that does not involve wine.’
Any action against US wine imports could benefit wineries in Europe, after the EU agreed a free trade agreement with Canada last month.