Fast ac­tion to be taken on im­ports

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Times News - Sarah Ison

Winer­ies have wel­comed the launch of for­mal ac­tion by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion against Canada, hop­ing it will help com­bat an­ti­com­pet­i­tive im­port mea­sures and en­cour­age more South West winer­ies to ex­port to the Cana­dian mar­ket.

In 2017, Mar­garet River’s wine ex­ports to Canada were val­ued at $1.9 mil­lion, rep­re­sent­ing al­most 6 per cent of the re­gion’s ex­port value, ac­cord­ing to the Mar­garet River Wine As­so­ci­a­tion.

But Flame­tree Wines ex­port sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager Liz Men­cel told the Times lo­cal winer­ies strug­gled with the tight bu­reau­cracy and pro­tec­tion­ist mea­sures en­forced by Cana­dian liquor con­trol boards, which gave favour to do­mes­tic pro­duc­ers over Aus­tralian im­ports by firmly ten­der­ing and con­trol­ling in­dus­try.

“It’s al­ways been a unique sit­u­a­tion, with most Cana­dian prov­inces hav­ing some mea­sure of Gov­ern­ment con­trol (on do­mes­tic and im­ported wine),” she said.

“A big prob­lem has been that it’s a very com­plex sys­tem to work with and in­volves loads of red tape and pa­per­work.”

Wa­ter­shed Wines owner and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ge­off Bar­ret said ex­port­ing to Canada re­quired a “con­vo­luted process” of sub­mit­ting wines to the man­ag­ing au­thor­ity, rather than just procur­ing an in­ter­ested im­port part­ner.

“Canada has an an­ti­quated so­cial­ist pol­icy where a quasi- gov­ern­ment au­thor­ity will de­fine what Cana­di­ans will and will not drink,” he said.

While the mea­sures pre­sented chal­lenges to larger winer­ies, small pro­duc­ers were de­terred from even try­ing to ex­port to Canada, Ms Men­cel said.

“It elim­i­nates small pro­duc­ers with fan­tas­tic wines,” she said.

The MRWA wel­comed ini­tia­tives that re­duced dis­crim­i­na­tion and trade bar­ri­ers against lo­cal ex­ports and hoped the dis­pute set­tle­ment ac­tion launched by Aus­tralia and the WTO would “level the play­ing field”.

How­ever, con­cerns over the dis­rup­tion of the ex­ist­ing trade re­la­tion­ship with Canada were raised, and Mr Bar­ret warned against jeop­ar­dis­ing the ex­ist­ing sit­u­a­tion for those al­ready trad­ing with the coun­try.

Pic­ture: Sarah Ison

Flame­tree Wines ex­port sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager Liz Men­cel and wine­maker Ju­lian Scott wel­come ac­tion against Canada aim­ing to de­crease an­ti­com­pet­i­tive ap­proaches to Aus­tralian ex­porters.

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