Australian wine industry targeted by China in diplomatic spat, slapped with tariffs of up to 200%

CHINA – A cloud of anxiety has covered the skies of Australia’s wine industry after Chinese authorities moved with speed to impose preliminary anti-dumping measures on wine imports from Australia including tariffs up to 200%.

China made the announcement through its Ministry of Commerce in late November with the tarrifs which range from 107.1% to 212.1% coming becoming effective immediately.

The move comes after China launched an anti-dumping probe into Australian wine imports back in August and a build-up of tension between the two countries over commodities trade.

Despite calling the tariffs temporary, China has announced no fixed end dates further throwing Australian wine makers into a deep cloud of uncertainty.

China decision to impose preliminary anti-dumping measures on wine imports from Australia have been described as unjustifiable by Australian authorities.

“The Australian Government categorically rejects any allegation that our wine producers are dumping product into China, and we continue to believe there is no basis or any evidence for these claims.”

Australia’s agriculture minister – David Littleproud

Australia in a statement said the move looks to be about diplomatic grievances rather than any action by winemakers.

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Australia’s trade minister Simon Birmingham said the tariffs were a devastating blow to businesses who trade with China, as it “will render unviable for many businesses, their wine trade with China”.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian however defended his country’s decision saying the measures were in line with Chinese laws and regulations.

As relations further deteriorate, China has been targeting more and more commodities from Australia, either slapping them with tariffs or making it difficult for them to trade.

This year, China has imposed tariffs on Australian barley, suspended meat imports, while Chinese importers were told to expect customs delays across seven categories of Australian products from coal to seafood from November.

According to the government, China takes 37% of Australia’s total wine exports, an industry worth AUD 2.9 billion ($2.14 billion).

Importers bringing in Australian wine will now need to pay deposits to China’s customs authority, which will be calculated based on different rates the authority has assigned to various companies.

Treasury Wine Estates – which saw its share price fall more than 13% after the announcement was made – is required to pay 169.3%, making it the highest among all the named wine firms. 

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