Alberta BC Trade Dispute

February 15, 2018 1:45 am
Updated: February 15, 2018 1:46 am

B.C. government ad promoting wine didn’t break any trade rules: expert

Bottles of British Columbia wine on display at a liquor store in Cremona, Alta., Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. Alberta is banning the import of British Columbia wines in response to what Alberta Premier Rachel Notley sees as moves to try to scuttle the Trans Mountain pipeline project. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
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The B.C. government recently paid for a full page ad in a Vancouver newspaper asking British Columbians to support their province’s wine industry amid the ongoing dispute with Alberta.

But did that ad break free trade rules?

READ MORE: B.C. Liberals claim ‘wine war’ with Alberta has jeopardized natural gas pipeline

UBC professor and trade expert John Ries said the government-paid ad could be seen as a subsidy, but it’s not really breaking the rules.

He also said the chances of a country bringing it up for a dispute resolution with NAFTA or the Word Trade Organization (WTO) are slim.

READ MORE: B.C. government announces April will be ‘B.C. wine month’

“A subsidy has to cause a threat of material injury in the complainant country, and I don’t think the B.C. wine industry is big enough to cause material injury,” he said.

Ries said B.C.’s wine industry isn’t a big enough player in countries like Chile or the U.S. to even notice.

READ MORE: B.C. urges wine drinkers to buy local amid Alberta boycott

He added that if anyone has a bone to pick with the ad, it will be Alberta.

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