Australia to Refer China to WTO Over Controversial Wine Export Taxes | Voice of America
SYDNEY – Australia is asking the World Trade Organization to intervene in its dispute with China over the imposition of anti-dumping duties on Australian wine exports.
Relations between Australia and China, its biggest trading partner, have been at their worst for decades. There has been diplomatic friction over regional geopolitical hotspots, including Beijing’s growing military ambitions in the South China Sea. Tensions escalated last year when Australia called for an investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus, which was first detected in China in late 2019. It was a move that infuriated Beijing, where it has been interpreted as a criticism of its handling of the pandemic.
Since then, China has imposed severe economic sanctions on a range of Australian products.
Beijing accused Australia of illegally subsidizing its wine producers and in November announced additional import taxes of more than 200% on Australian wine for five years.
China was Australia’s most valuable wine export market, but tariffs almost killed this lucrative trade. Australian authorities have denied that the wine industry has been subsidized, as claimed by China.
The Australian ambassador to Beijing said China’s campaign of economic sanctions against his country was “vindictive”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also warned his government would respond to “economic coercion”.
Canberra has said it will now appeal Chinese tariffs on wine exports to the World Trade Organization.
“In March of this year, the Chinese government imposed countervailing duties on Australian wine ranging from 116% to 220%,” Australian Minister of Commerce Dan Tehan said. “It has had a serious impact on the Australian wine industry. Our exports increased from 1.1 billion [Australian] dollars to about $ 20 million. As a result, and after 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 just days after a summit of the G-7 group of advanced economies echoed Australia’s call for a tougher stance against China’s trade practices.
This is the second time in six months that Canberra has appealed to the WTO. The first came after China imposed tariffs on Australian barley exports.
The WTO resolution process involves extensive consultations and possible arbitration.
Analysts warn that the WTO is unlikely to come to a conclusion on the contentious wine tariffs for a few years.