KAMLOOPS — Save-On Foods has been selling wine at its Sahali location since October, after a lengthy struggle to get a variance passed that would allow for wine sales within the store.
Now, the U.S. is challenging the program that allows exclusively B.C. wine sales in grocery stores.
The trade enforcement action launched under the Obama administration last week claims the sale of B.C.-only wine discriminates against the sale of U.S. wine, as well as other imported wines.
The United States also says the grocery store sales program breaches Canada's World Trade Organization commitments.
Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone disagrees.
"We do believe that we are completely within the confines of our trade obligations pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement," Stone said. "NAFTA does provide for a limited number of these kinds of licenses, and we've intentionally kept the number of grocery stores selling B.C.-only wine to a fairly limited number."
Stone says the B.C. wine industry is rapidly growing, employing thousands, and generating hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue.
Not knowing what could happen to NAFTA under U.S. President Donald Trump, Stone says he wants to ensure everything is done to help the Kamloops and B.C. wine industry continue to thrive.
"It's an industry that we're going to continue to fight for," he said. "The United States will take, I'm certain, a number of actions on a number of different fronts, and that has been typical of our relationship with the United States over the years. It might get somewhat more tense with the election of Donald Trump. But, we're very confident that on the wine file in particular, these 14 wine licenses like the one at Save-On are within the confines of our trading obligations."
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