Letter to Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, Mary Ng Regarding Issues to International Trade
The Honourable Mary Ng, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
Global Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
January 16, 2020
Dear Minister Ng,
To begin, please accept our congratulations on your appointment as Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade. Given Canada’s heritage as a trading nation and with our business community’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, your position is critical to ensuring that our exporters continue to have what they need to do business with our trading partners.
At this time, we would like to bring an issue to your attention that we are sure you can appreciate, given your responsibility for small business in addition to international trade. In 2018, following your government’s legislated excise duty indexation for beer, wine and spirits, Australia requested a review at the World Trade Organization of Canada’s federal excise duty exemption for 100% Canadian wines. The draft report of this review is anticipated in April of this year, with a final report likely to be published mid-summer. As you are no doubt aware, a WTO ruling against Canada would be binding.
A WTO ruling against Canada’s excise exemption for 100% Canadian wines threatens the more than 400 Canadian wineries that have opened since the exemption was put in place in 2006. These wineries have never had to pay an excise duty and the effect to their bottom line would be catastrophic. The majority of Canada’s wineries are small family-run enterprises and this WTO challenge directly threatens their existence.
It has been brought to our attention that the Australian government has indicated a willingness to negotiate a settlement outside of the WTO process and that this resolution is possible until the final WTO report is tabled. We strongly urge you to engage with your Australian counterpart to secure an agreement that would protect the 9,000 jobs that are currently at risk in the Canadian wine industry.