Alberta Government to Appeal Trade Panel Ruling on Beer Mark-Up & Rebate Structure

CALGARY, AB – The Government of Alberta has announced that it will be appealing a recent trade panel decision that its mark-up and rebate structure for small breweries is in violation of inter-provincial trade rules.

In late July, a three-person panel representing the Agreement on Internal Trade ruled 2-to-1 in favour of beer importer Artisan Ales who had filed a complaint over the beer markup structure implemented in Alberta in October 2015. The policy featured a graduated markup for breweries in the New West Partnership region (British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan) that ranged from 10 cents to $1.25 per litre depending on the size of the brewery, while beer from outside of the region was subject to the $1.25 per litre rate regardless of brewery size.

The government changed the policy in July 2016, and implemented a standardized rate of $1.25 per litre for all beer sold in the province regardless of the size or location of the brewery. However, this was quickly followed by the introduction the Small Brewers Development Program, a rebate program for Alberta’s small brewers that essentially reduces their rates back to those in the previous structure.

In a statement released earlier today to announce the appeal, Finance Minister Joe Ceci said that he feels “the program works and is doing what it intended.”

“I promised Alberta’s small businesses that our government would have their backs,” Ceci continued. “I have no intention of abandoning them now and that’s why we are appealing the decision by the AIT panel on the ASBD program. I continue to believe that the ASBD program meets our commitments under AIT and other trade agreements.”

For more details, see the full announcement from the Government of Alberta, as well as coverage from the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal.

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