Editorial: The taste of trade

Trade agreements can’t stop you from buying local

It wasn’t all that long ago that B.C. wines made their way onto grocery store shelves, but thanks to the new trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, it looks like they’re going to have to share that space with wines from south of the border.

Industry experts predicted there would be a trade challenge to the B.C.-only designation as the options were being discussed in 2015. That arrived a few months after wines showed up next to groceries in the form of complaints to the World Trade Organization in 2016.

What’s actually killing that exclusivity, though, is the USMCA, with B.C.’s wine industry being used as a bargaining chip in favour of the east coast auto industry.

But there’s no use crying over spilled milk – or spilled wine, for that matter. It was pretty much inevitable B.C.-only would disappear sooner or later. The questions are what effect will it have, and what people can do moving forward.

The first action we can take is simply not buying U.S. wines when they start showing up on grocery store shelves later in 2019. We’re not really calling for a boycott here, but why would you want to buy a lower quality, large-batch wine rather than small lot wines from area wineries, and support the local economy at the same time?

Price is an obvious answer. And if you’re satisfied with Two-buck Chuck and its cousins, no argument is going to dissuade you. But you don’t have to be a wine snob to appreciate the difference between good and bad wines. Since this is a luxury purchase anyways, why not spend a little more for a satisfying experience?

And if people aren’t purchasing mass-market imports, then grocery stores have less incentive to have them in their wine aisles. Because trade agreements or not, a retailer can’t be forced to stock items that aren’t selling.

Let’s hope that those retailers, for their part, are also considering whether they want to support the B.C. wine industry or the competition from the U.S. and other wine-producing countries.

– Black Press

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