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Federal industry minister visits Lake Country
Federal Industry Minister James Moore visited Gray Monk Estate Winery in Lake Country Friday as part of a cross-country speaking tour to gain support for removing interprovincial trade barriers.
Prior to speaking with the media, Moore led a roundtable discussion with about 15 different Okanagan winery and business representatives.
"The problem is we have more free trade internationally than we have here at home in Canada," said Moore.
"And the wine industry knows that better than anybody else."
Moore said the barriers have hurt the Canadian economy by "tens of billions of dollars."
"It's been 20 years since the current agreement was put in place."
Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas' Private Member's Bill C-311, which passed in 2012, removed federal restrictions prohibiting individuals from moving wine from one province to another when purchased for personal use.
However, provincial liquor distribution policies have hindered free trade province to province.
"We still see provinces are trying to put forward trade barriers with regulation," said Albas.
"Why is it so difficult to be able to ship a bottle of wine from Penticton or Kelowna to Calgary when it's easier to ship it to Tokyo?
"We want to work with provinces to grow our economy."
Albas said progress is being made on removing the trade barriers; however, he didn't have a timeline for when changes may come.