Alberta has won an internal dairy trade dispute with fellow Canadian province Ontario

Alberta has won an internal dairy trade dispute with fellow Canadian province Ontario

The province of Alberta in Canada has won a long-standing trade dispute with Ontario that had placed a barrier on "imitation dairy blends" being sold in its territory.

A panel, set up under Canada's Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), rejected Ontario's block on the sale of products that blend vegetable oil with dairy ingredients, saying that the restriction was a "barrier to interprovincial trade".

"It has been a long fight but one that was worth fighting," said Iris Evans, minister of international and intergovernmental relations. "For too long Ontario has maintained these restrictions that are contrary to its domestic trade obligations and we are pleased the panel has ruled in our favour."

Alberta launched the challenge in March this year, and was supported by the British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba provinces.

The AIT panel has given Ontario until 1 February 2011 to comply with the decision. If it remains in breach however, then it could face a penalty of up to US$5m.

The AIT has placed a value of C$225m (US$220m) on the market that would develop if the barriers were lifted.

"Oilseed production in Alberta is a significant and important part of our agriculture sector," said Jack Hayden, the province's minister of agriculture and rural development. "This ruling provides an opportunity for both our producers and our processing industry as we regain access to the Ontario market."