China will review its position on Australian wine tariffs over the coming months, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese revealed yesterday, also announcing that, as a result, Australia will suspend its action in the World Trade Organization.
In a press conference this morning Prime Minister Albanese said he is confident that this move will result in Australian wine being able to be exported to China tariff-free. The Prime Minister is set to travel to China in early November, where he will meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang.
The announcement by the Prime Minister that China has agreed to expedite a review of its import duties of up to 220 per cent on Australian wine has been welcomed by wine industry leaders.
Australian Grape & Wine CEO Lee McLean responded positively to the announcement.“This is another very positive step towards the removal of import duties on wine that would see the resumption of Australian wine exports to China,” said McLean.
“It has been a very difficult time for Australia’s grape growers and wine producers in recent years following the loss of China as our major trading partner, the global pandemic and various weather events, so this is very welcome news for grape growers and winemakers across the country.
“The review process by the Chinese Government is expected to take five months and Australian Grape & Wine will engage in and support that process in any way we can. We understand Australia will suspend the wine dispute in the World Trade Organisation pending the outcome of this review.”
Australian Grape & Wine President John Hart OAM and McLean visited Shanghai last week and met with the Chinese Alcoholic Drinks Association to discuss common objectives and significant opportunities for the two industries to collaborate in the future.
“The re-engagement with China at the political, government officials and industry-to-industry levels has enabled the positive dialogue that has led to this decision,” said McLean. “We have said from the beginning that dialogue between the parties would be critical to resolving this dispute, and we have taken a major step towards this today.”
“Australian Grape & Wine has worked closely with the Australian Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade over recent years to foster a mutually beneficial solution that advances the interests both Australia and China. We acknowledge the work of ministers and officials in rebalancing the relationship with China, facilitating the resumption of trade in commodities such as coal, timber, barley and hay.
“China holds a pivotal position in the global wine market for Australia. Before the imposition of import duties, the value of Australian wine exports to China was $1.2 billion. Regardless of the outcome, we remain committed to diversifying our market presence and cultivating opportunities in markets across the world.”
Meantime, Treasury Wine Estates CEO Tim Ford also welcomed the announcement.
“It’s great news to see an agreement for a path forward to allow our Australian brands and wine to be sold in the Chinese market,” said Ford.
“There are only positives to come out of a favourable tariff review for the Chinese consumer, customers and wine category, for the Australian wine industry and for TWE.
“Both governments have worked constructively to achieve this outcome and we now look forward to a new era of positive engagement that will ultimately build a strong and growing China wine category should the review see the removal of these tariffs.”
NSW Wine Industry Association president Mark Bourne said he was optimistic following the announcement.
“This is an encouraging step forward that will hopefully lead to the removal of Chinese import duties on Australian wine,” said Bourne.
“It is currently a very difficult time for the wine industry,” he added. “Following several seasons of challenging weather events and the COVID pandemic, we are now facing worldwide falling consumer demand and an oversupply of wine. The announcement of a potential pathway to resolve the multi-year trade dispute, and the reopening of the Chinese market, is positive news for many grape growers and winemakers across NSW.”
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