China-Australia relations: Beijing officially slaps import duties on Australian wine after concluding probe

Su-Lin Tan
·3-min read

China has officially slapped duties of between 116.2 per cent and 218.4 per cent on Australian wines in containers of up to two litres after concluding anti-dumping investigations on Friday.

The decision is a blow to the Australian wine industry already reeling from temporary duties imposed in late November, a move that completely stopped the trade of Australian wine to China.

The duties – higher than the preliminary tariffs – will be applied for five years from Sunday, after the Chinese commerce ministry reiterated a decision made in November that the domestic wine industry had been hurt by the dumping of cheap Australian wine.

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“China’s domestic wine industry has suffered material damage, and there is a causal relationship between the dumping and subsidies and the material damage,” the ministry said in a press release.

“The Ministry of Commerce conducted investigations in strict accordance with relevant Chinese laws and regulations and [World Trade Organization] rules, and made the final ruling.”

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Earlier duties ranged between 107.1 per cent to 212.1 per cent.

The ministry also levied additional anti-subsidy duties of between 6.3 per cent to 6.4 per cent, but said it would not be collecting them to prevent double taxation.

Among the specifically listed wine companies with big exports to China, major wine exporter Treasury Wine Estates – owner of the popular Penfolds label -will have to pay an anti-dumping duty of 175.6 per cent. Casella Wines, known for another well-known label in China and Asia, Yellow Tail, will pay 170.9 per cent, while Accolade Wines, which produces brands like Hardys, will pay 167.1 per cent.

Smaller and non-major exporters have been slapped with the highest duty of 218.4 per cent.

China commenced investigations in August amid a protracted trade and political conflict between the two countries that has also led to bans on various commodities, including coal, barley and lobsters.

Wine was also one of the commodities unofficially banned – on top of the anti-dumping investigations – and exporters which attempted to send wines to China have found them stuck at ports uncleared, including more than 3,000 litres of wine from Penfolds and nearly 20,000 litres from another winery, Badger’s Brook Estate, detained at Chinese ports in January.

The anti-dumping decision comes as Australia’s trade department said exports to China, aside from iron ore, had suffered heavily since the spat started.

In a senate hearing on Thursday, the trade department told the Australian government wine exports had fallen, with exports to China down to less than A$1 million dollars (US$759,000) in January.

Before the conflict, China imported nearly 40 per cent of Australia’s wine exports worth around A$1 billion a year.

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