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Thursday 28 March 2024

Australian wine industry delighted as China lifts crippling tariffs

Wine producers across Australia have welcomed China’s decision to remove crippling import duties from Australian bottled wine. 

Grape growers and winemakers were cheered by today’s final decision from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce to remove import duties on Australian wine products with effect from March 29,  Australian Grape & Wine chief executive Lee McLean said.

“This is a very important decision for the Australian wine industry," McLean said. 

"It reflects the positive outcome of diplomatic efforts by the Albanese government to stabilise relations with China and underscores the importance of collaboration between government and industry.

“We acknowledge and thank Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Trade Minister Don Farrell and Agriculture Minister Murray Watt and their respective departments for their steadfast support of Australian grape growers and winemakers throughout the process. 

"With their renowned reputation for quality and innovation, Australian wines offer Chinese consumers an unparalleled opportunity to explore new flavours and experiences. 

"The presence of Australian wines in China will complement the local wine industry, providing consumers with a broader selection of premium wine options.

“The Australian wine sector has made a long-term commitment to building the market for Australian wine in China, with many wine companies having developed close relationships with importers, buyers and consumers of Australian wine over many years. 

“We are working closely with the Australian Government and Wine Australia to ensure a co-ordinated approach is taken to re-entry and that the sector is well positioned to re-establish trade relationships.

“We look forward to seeing Australian wines back on Chinese dining tables and rejuvenating our relationship with customers and business partners in that market. 

“We will also, however, be maintaining our focus on diversifying our export footprint and growing demand here in Australia as well.”

Producers were excited at the Chinese market re-opening.

“This decision is important and highlights the ongoing strengthening of Australia’s trading relationship with China, for the mutual benefit of both countries,” said Kirsty Balnaves of Balnaves Wines in Coonawarra and president of the South Australian Wine Industry Association.

“Significant trade exists between China and Australia, and the removal of import duties on wine will
result in South Australian wine businesses re-considering the China wine market and allocating wine
to the market.

“This will be based on several important factors, principally, a market risk assessment,
acknowledging the importance of market diversification.”

New South Wales Wine president Mark Bourne commented “China has historically been a valuable export market for NSW wine producers, with strong relationships formed over the years, and the opportunity to do business again comes at a time when the industry is facing several economic headwinds.”

Tariffs of between 107 and 212% were implemented in 2020. This followed multiple diplomatic disputes between Canberra and Beijing over human rights, national security and Covid-19.

The ministry accused Australian winemakers of dumping wine in the Chinese market at cheaper prices, forcing out competition from local vineyards. The move was devastating for many Australian producers.

"When we export our wine it’s good for our winemakers, and it’s good for the people buying it, because Australian wine is the best in the world," said flag-waving and over-excited Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

"It’s a huge industry that supports jobs and contributes to our national wealth, too."

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