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Wine Australia shuts China office as exports slump

Australian wine on the shelves of a Shanghai store prior to the ‘anti-dumping’ duties. (Source: Reuters/Florence Lo)

Australian government-backed industry body Wine Australia will shut its office in Shanghai, as Australian wine imports into China continue to slump after Beijing levied hefty tariffs on the product.

It was Wine Australia’s only office in China.

“This decision follows extensive consultation with the Australian grape and wine sector and is based on the current environment and market opportunity,” a Wine Australia spokesperson said.

“Wine Australia will continue to maintain our brand presence in China via our wine trade and consumer-facing social media channels, and will continue to work closely with in-market trade representatives on brand building and marketing campaign.”

China was Australia’s largest market for wine exports until in 2020 the country began an anti-dumping probe into imports of Australian wine and imposed tariffs.

The actions by Beijing came after its relations with Canberra had soured over issues such as Australia’s 2018 ban on Huawei Technologies from its 5G broadband network and Canberra’s call for an independent investigation into the origins of Covid-19.

China also imposed tariffs on Australian commodities such as coal, beef and barley. Wine Australia last month said Australian wine exports to China in the year to March declined by $844 million due to the tariffs.

In March, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreed to establish a dispute settlement panel after Australia said China’s anti-dumping duties of between 116.2 and 218.4 per cent were inconsistent with its obligations under the WTO Agreements.

  • Reporting by Kirsty Needham in Sydney and Brenda Goh in Shanghai, editing by Ed Osmond, of Reuters.

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