Australia complains to WTO over high wine tariffs imposed by China

The Australian government said on Saturday (June 19) it was lodging a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization over China’s anti-dumping duties on Australian wine, further exacerbating the trade impasse with Beijing.

In a joint press release with Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan said, “The government will continue to vigorously defend the interests of Australian wine makers and use the established WTO regime to resolve our differences. “

Relations between the two countries deteriorated after Australia banned Huawei from its 5G broadband network in 2018. Canberra’s call for an international investigation into the origin of the new coronavirus exacerbated its already deteriorating relationship with Beijing.

China, Australia’s largest trading partner, has imposed tariffs on Australian goods, including wine and barley, and has restricted imports of Australian beef, coal and grapes in a move the U.S. has called “economic coercion.

Last year, Australia formally appealed to the WTO to review China’s decision to impose high tariffs on imports of Australian barley.

The Australian government had earlier said the wine tariffs had doubled or tripled its price and prevented exporters from entering the Chinese market.

Industry figures show Australian winemakers exported just A$12 million ($9 million) of wine to China in the four months from December to March last year, compared with A$325 million a year earlier, confirming the high new tariffs have virtually eliminated their biggest export market.

In early June, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on the WTO to resolve the impasse between the two countries. Days later, Australia won the support of the Group of Seven nations to take a tougher stance against China’s growing global trade influence.

The Australian government said Saturday that Canberra was prepared to work with Beijing despite the complaints.

“Australia remains willing to engage directly with China to resolve this issue,” Tehan and Littleproud said in a joint press release.