NAFTA Negotiators Urged To Protect Canada's Wine Industry

The US government says it's reviewing how Ontario and other provinces sell wine in local stores.

American trade officials have complained that Canadian wine sales unfairly advantage local products over American imports.

Steve Mitchell is the president of the Essex Pelee Island Wine Coast Association.

He calls the comments "typical" as Canada and the US get set to re-open talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement...

"A lot more room was opened up for American wines since NAFTA," says Mitchell. "If you look at the sales history since NAFTA, American wines have grown significantly in both market share and and in volume — so there's little to complain about."

Under NAFTA, the Canadian wine industry was allowed to grandfather trade protections to support domestic wines, but had to open up the Canadian market for more American vintages.

Mitchell believes the Americans will go after those protections, and Ontario's decision to allow wine sales in grocery stores. He says the negotiations will show how much the government values the wine industry in Canada.

"There are a lot of other important industries that the government is considering and at the end of the day, it's a lot of give and take that happens in the bartering process," says Mitchell.  "We hope that the Ontario and Canadian governments support the wine industry that has been built."

Mitchell says the government needs to protect the wine industry, given the small size of domestic production in comparison with US output.