The Federal government announced on April 9th its plans to eliminate Federal interprovincial barriers to trade on alcoholic beverages. While this should be great news for consumers, it must be pointed out that this announcement will not help New Brunswick alcohol producers distribute and sell their products outside their own provincial jurisdiction.
As retail sale of alcohol is under provincial jurisdiction, ANBL continues to retain the exclusive right to be the sole importer of alcohol for retail purposes in New Brunswick and continues to tax and regulate the sale and distribution of alcohol within its boundaries.
“Interprovincial alcohol trade restrictions is a significant barrier to growth for our industry”, says Wendy Papadopoulos, president of the New Brunswick Craft Alcohol Producers’ Association (NBCAPA), “Modifying the New Brunswick alcohol policy framework is the most pressing issue. Archaic policies in place in New Brunswick are seriously impeding local craft producers’ ability to compete in a growing and widening market, where other provinces are mostly accommodating to the industry and more focused on promoting locally-made craft alcohol products”.
While NBCAPA feels there is momentum in New Brunswick to modernize its approach and allow free distribution of alcohol between provinces, the organization strongly believe that the New Brunswick industry is playing in an uneven field with out-of-province producers due to ANBL’s existing cramping policies. Neighbouring jurisdictions have already transitioned to systems that promote local economic development. Meanwhile policies here greatly affect producers’ ability to be competitive in New Brunswick and other provinces.
This can be easily illustrated by the following:
“The regional economic impact of a craft alcohol producer comes not simply from the economic activity attributed to the production but also the contribution to tourism, agriculture, export development culture, and community development. The positive social and economic impact of the industry can be felt throughout the province, in both large urban centres, and in smaller communities,” said Adam Clawson, vice-president of NBCAPA.
NBCAPA welcomes the Federal government’s proposal to facilitate interprovincial trade. However, the organization believes the New Brunswick government must recognize the strategic importance of the craft alcohol industry in terms of economic development and act now to capitalize on it. This can be done by creating a policy environment focused on removing legal and economic barriers to growth, and improving consumer access to local products. The economic multiplier effect is much stronger if producers keep their hard-earned money, than if levied by ANBL, as the industry will use these additional funds to hire and invest in a growing capital-intensive industry.