Canada's wine industry may face restrictions if leaked EU trade deal is accurate
Published Thursday, August 14, 2014 10:02PM EDT
A trade deal between Canada and the European Union could restrict Canada’s wine sales by limiting the number of privately run outlets selling domestic products, if a leaked document turns out to be close to the finalized treaty.
A German website posted the 521-page document this week, and claims it’s a copy of the trade agreement between Canada and the EU. You can find the entire document below.
Last fall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper travelled to Brussels, where he reached a tentative agreement, the details of which have yet to be formally outlined by either Canada or the EU.
If the leaked document is accurate, the trade agreement will clamp down on the expansion of Canada’s wine sales by limiting the number of privately run wine outlets in Ontario and B.C. that only sell Canadian products.
The text of the leaked document states that there “shall not exceed 292 (private outlets) in Ontario and 60 in British Columbia.” Those limits have already been reached in those provinces, suggesting restrictions on opening any new stores that sell local wines.
The Harper government has said the pact will create thousands of jobs and pump billions into the Canadian economy. But some winemakers say the portion of the treaty that affects their industry, if true, doesn’t make sense.
“The irony is strange: a free-trade agreement, and limiting the sale of one country’s domestic product,” said Tyler Dawson, of B.C.’s Liberty Wine Merchants.
Laura Dawson, an international trade specialist, says liquor sales are already “incredibly difficult.”
“And in this agreement, it’s been as difficult as any two parties that have been negotiating,” she said.
International trade lawyer Matthew Kronby says if Canada has stores that only sell Canadian wine, but can’t sell EU wine, “that is discriminatory.”
The leaked document was not posted in its entirety, so it’s not known how much cheaper European wine and other products will be for Canadians.
Meanwhile, critics are now questioning why Canadian stakeholders are learning about the deal from Europeans and not their own government. “Secrecy has been the hallmark of the Harper government and in very few fields is that more pronounced than in the trade file,” said NDP trade critic Don Davies.
According to government officials, the details are being finalized ahead of a formal signing ceremony in Canada next month.
Speaking with reporters in Toronto on Thursday, Justice Minister Peter MacKay declined to comment.
“I’m not going to comment on a leak,” MacKay said. “Leaks by their very nature may or may not be accurate.”
The trade deal, which Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called the biggest in Canadian history, is intended to eliminate virtually all tariffs and many barriers on trade, investment and labour mobility.
With a report from CTV’s Richard Madan in Ottawa
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