Australia approaching WTO over wine dispute

World News | Australia to Take China to WTO over Wine Duties

After the China Australia dispute, Canberra is approaching World Trade Organisation seeking intervention in the dispute over the imposition of anti-dumping duties on its wine exports.

This comes after Beijing accused Australia of illegally subsidizing its wine producers, and in November last year announced additional import taxes of more than 200 per cent on Australian wine for five years.

David Littleproud, Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, said, “Australia will defend the interests of Australian winemakers by taking action in the World Trade Organization over China’s imposition of anti-dumping duties on Australian wine.”

“The decision to commence the dispute resolution process was taken following extensive consultation with Australia’s winemakers. The WTO dispute resolution process is available to any WTO member as a means to resolve trade disputes in a respectful manner.”

Littleproud further said the Australian government will continue to vigorously defend the interests of Australian winemakers using the established system in the WTO to resolve their differences.

This comes six months after Canberra has called in the WTO. The first was after China applied tariffs to Australian barley exports, VOA reported.

The American international broadcaster reported that China was Australia’s most valuable wine export market, however, the duties have almost killed off that lucrative trade. Australian officials have denied the wine industry has been subsidized, as China has alleged.

“In March this year the Chinese government put countervailing duties on Australian wine ranging between 116 per cent to 220 per cent,” said Australian trade minister Dan Tehan.

“That has had a serious impact on the Australian wine industry. Our exports have fallen from 1.1 billion (Australian) dollars to approximately $20 million. As a result, and following close consultation with the Australian wine industry, and I thank them for the cooperative way they have worked with the government, we have decided to take this wine dispute to the World Trade Organization.”

The action came a few days after the leaders of the G-7 backed Australia on a tougher stand against China’s trade practices.

Tensions between China and Australia have escalated over a slew of issues. Relations started to fray in 2018 when Australia banned Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies from building its 5G network, the first Western country to do so.

Since then, relations have deteriorated and are now perceived to be at their lowest point following Canberra’s criticisms of how Beijing handled the coronavirus pandemic. Canberra has also been locked in an ongoing trade war with Beijing for several months as China has slapped sanctions on various Australian products.

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