Australia has responded defiantly to China imposing anti-dumping tariffs on Australian wine, saying the “seriously concerning development” looks to be about diplomatic grievances and not any action by winemakers.
China will impose temporary anti-dumping tariffs of 107.1 per cent to 212.1 per cent on wine imported from Australia from November 28, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said today, Friday.
Australia’s trade minister Simon Birmingham said the tariffs were unjustifiable and it was a distressing time for hundreds of wine producers because it “will render unviable for many businesses, their wine trade with China”.
China takes 37 per cent of Australia’s total wine exports, an industry worth A$2.9 billion, the government said.
Last week China outlined a list of grievances about Australia’s foreign investment, national security and human rights policy, saying Canberra needed to correct its actions to restore the bilateral relationship with its largest trading partner.
“China’s recent comments gives the perception that it’s more about their grievances around those matters, rather than in fact around anything any industry has done wrong,” Australia’s agriculture minister David Littleproud told media on Friday.
He added: “It just doesn’t worry Australian exporters, it worries exporters from around the world.”
China began an anti-dumping probe in August at the request of the Chinese Alcoholic Drinks Association, but in Canberra the preliminary decision to impose tariffs was viewed as part of a pattern of punitive trade measures since Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.
Birmingham pointed to “the cumulative impact of China’s trade sanctions against a number of Australian industries” and said if they were a response to other factors this would be “completely incompatible with the commitments China has given” to the World Trade Organization.
This year, China has imposed tariffs on Australian barley, suspended meat imports, and Chinese importers were told to expect customs delays across seven categories of Australian products from coal to seafood from November.
Importers bringing in Australian wine will need to pay deposits to China’s customs authority, which will be calculated based on different rates the authority has assigned to various companies, according to the statement.
The rate required of Treasury Wine was 169.3 per cent, the highest among all the named wine firms in the statement. Shares of Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates Ltd, the world’s largest listed winemaker, fell more than 13 per cent before being put on a trading halt pending an announcement.
An importer of Australian wine in Shanghai told Reuters: “I will stop importing Australian wines for at least three months to see how things go. Many importers will stop the business, according to what I know, because it is simple not workable with such a deposit.”
Casella Wines will require a 160.2 per cent deposit, Swan Vintage will require 107.1 per cent. For Australian wines that are not named on the list, the rate is 212.1 per cent.
The Australian government will hold a meeting with winemakers today.
- Reporting by Sophie Yu in Beijing, Kirsty Needham, Byron Kaye and Jonathan Barrett in Sydney; Additional reporting by Min Zhang and Shivani Singh; Editing by Sam Holmes and Raju Gopalakrishnan.