BC is taking another step to protect its wine industry in the wake of an embargo placed on provincial wines by the Alberta government.
The province announced this morning it has notified its eastern neighbour it is formally requesting consultations under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) concerning Alberta’s actions to ban the sale of B.C. wine.
It will be the first formal dispute to occur under the new CFTA.
“BC’s wine industry is an important contributor to our economy, creating good jobs and other economic benefits for people in BC,” said Jobs, Trade and Technology minister Bruce Ralston.
“We’re standing by our wine producers and the communities that rely on this important industry by launching a formal trade dispute, and we are confident we will be successful.”
BC’s wine industry employs about 12,000 people, the province says, and has an economic impact of $2.8 billion annually.
Alberta placed the embargo on BC wines earlier this month in response to BC’s talk of a proposed ban on increased Oilsands bitumin shipments and a call for further review of the risks associated with a pipeline expansion that would carry that diluted bitumen from the Alberta Tarsands to Burnaby and from there to tankers creeping down Burrard Inlet through Vancouver Harbour and along the southern tip of Vancouver Island to the Pacific.
“Alberta’s actions threaten the livelihood of the families that have worked so hard to build BC’s world-class wine industry,” Mr. Ralston said. “These actions are inconsistent with Alberta’s obligations under the CFTA, and we will protect our reputation and the interests of British Columbians.”
In addition to the trade challenge, the Province is supporting BC’s wine industry by proclaiming April as BC Wine Month.
The government is also increasing opportunities to have BC wines in local BC Liquor Stores, including local wines from small and medium producers that are not typically available outside of the wineries.
Funding is also being made available for the Buy BC: Eat Drink Local campaign, and to support the marketing of BC VQA wines to new international markets
BC is home to 929 vineyards, including more than 350 licensed wineries; there are just under 3,900 hectares of wine grapes grown in the province.
The top markets for B.C. wine in 2016 were China (54%), Taiwan (23%) and the United States (11%).