(Pixabay)

Canada agrees to tax homegrown wine in trade settlement

The change is expected to occur by June 30, 2022

  • Jul. 29, 2020 9:10 a.m.

By Carl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer

B.C.’s wine industry is hoping the Trudeau government can uncork a solution after Canada agreed to reimpose a federal excise duty on domestic bottles as part of a trade dispute settlement.

The British Columbia Wine Institute (BCWI) estimates that the cost of a case of Canadian wine would rise by about $6, if a new provision in Canada’s trade truce with Australia announced Monday comes to pass, following a two-year grace period.

“That’s pretty material to Canadian wine growers and farmers, and so we’re unhappy about that,” said president and CEO Miles Prodan. “We’re in discussions with the feds as well, how can they help us with that.”

International Trade Minister Mary Ng announced on Monday that Canada had reached a “partial agreement” with Australia over its World Trade Organization challenge against Canada’s treatment of imported wines.

As part of the agreement, Canada agreed to repeal a 15-year-old exemption to the federal excise duty that it had been giving to wine produced in Canada and made from entirely Canadian products.

The change is expected to occur by June 30, 2022, according to Ng’s announcement.

Australia’s dispute was launched in January 2018, and includes other concerns, some of which were addressed on Monday that pertain to policies and regulations in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

But the removal of the excise exemption for Canadian wine affects the industry nationwide, Prodan said, not just the $2.8-billion industry in British Columbia.

While he said he was satisfied that the situation was being resolved through a negotiated settlement, as opposed to a WTO ruling, he said it will be a shock to many younger wineries. The BCWI claims 175 wineries as members.

In 2006, the former Harper government, newly elected to power, brought in the exemption for wine made from 100 per cent Canadian-grown products in Budget 2006, meant to give domestic winemakers a competitive edge.

In a statement issued Monday, Wine Growers Canada, the national industry association, said the excise exemption had “supported investment in more than 400 new wineries and 300 winery modernizations” over the 2006-18 period.

“Over half of the wineries that have come on in those 15 years have never (had to) to pay excise tax,” Prodan said. “We’ve grown exponentially in B.C., and arguably all over the rest of Canada … for the last 15 years we’ve built our business on that.”

The Trudeau government tweaked the excise tax in Budget 2017 so it indexes annually to the inflation rate.

WGC said it had made it clear to the government that the industry “requires a commitment to an excise exemption replacement program” given the anticipated financial impact.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau, the group said, had confirmed the government was “prepared to support the wine industry in managing the impacts of this trade challenge,” and was “actively investigating options.”

B.C. wasn’t mentioned in the federal announcement on Monday because it focused on other aspects of the trade dispute that were related to Ontario and Nova Scotia’s treatment of their wine sectors.

Australia’s B.C.-specific concerns had already been addressed, said Prodan, through other trade talks related to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The USMCA, which is the replacement for NAFTA, included a “side letter” where B.C. had agreed to stop restricting the wine sold on its grocery store shelves to provincial wine only, as of last November.

That policy, which had been brought in by the B.C. Liberals in 2015, forced international wines into “stores-within-a-store.” Monday’s agreement addresses similar issues.

Ontario, for example, agreed to eliminate the tax difference between provincial and non-provincial wine sold at wine boutiques.

“The agreement reflects Canada’s strong commitment to the rules-based international trading system, which is incredibly important for our businesses during these challenging times,” said Global Affairs departmental spokesperson Ryan Nearing.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC Wine

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Logan Terness made 31 saves to backstop the Trail Smoke Eaters to a 4-2 victory over the Cranbrook Bucks on Saturday at the Cominco Arena. Jim Bailey photo.
Trail Smoke Eaters double up Bucks, take Game 3 of Kootenay Cup

The Trail Smoke Eaters Chase Dafoe scored the game winner in a 4-2 victory over Cranbrook Saturday

Katrine Conroy
Katrine Conroy declared winner in Kootenay West

Preliminary results put NDP candidate firmly in the lead.

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A police pursuit ended with an arrest in Williams Lake on Highway 97 Sunday afternoon. (Facebook video screenshot)
Video catches police pursuit that ends with man kicked, punched in Williams Lake

A video of the arrest is getting widely shared on social media

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Most Read