China targets Australian wine in trade tit for tat

Marco Green
November 27, 2020

The anti-dumping deposits will take effect Nov 28 (Saturday) and range from 107.1 per cent to 212.1 per cent, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a statement Friday.

An "intrusive" questionnaire was sent to Australian wineries who ship to China in September as part of the investigation, while imports have slowly ground to a halt in November with shipments not being processed through Chinese customs or even allowed to dock in some ports.

Wine exports to China hit a record A$1.3 billion (US$900 million) a year ago, according to Australian government data, making it the biggest market by value for the product. That's 167% more than the value of exports to its next biggest market, the U.S. "They have taken China's development as a threat and taken a series of erroneous deeds and words".

Chinese-born Yang, who also goes by the pen name Yang Hengjun, was taken into custody in January a year ago and faces spying charges, which he denies.

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.

ReutersBottles of Penfolds Grange, made by Australian wine maker Penfolds and owned by Australia's Treasury Wine Estates, on a shelf for sale.

TWE has denied any wrongdoing and said in a statement it was "reviewing the provisional measures as a matter of urgency in order to update the market". Subsidiary Treasury Wine Estates Vintners is subject to duties as high as 169.3%, according to the Chinese commerce ministry's statement.

The two nations have been in a deadlock since 2018, when Canberra barred Huawei Technologies Co from building its 5G network.

Australia backed a global inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus in April, and effectively singled out China, according top Chinese diplomat.

"The Australian government will vigorously defend the industry", David Littleproud said.

Mr Morrison sought this week to release some of the pressure, giving a speech that praised China for pulling its people out of poverty.

Birmingham, the Australian minister, said the accumulation of sanctions on Australian imports suggested they were due to "other factors" but gave no details. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing noted the "positive comments".

The two sides are also locked in an ongoing row over spying, with China accusing Australia of raiding the homes of Chinese journalists as Canberra investigates an alleged covert influence campaign by Beijing.

In May, China suspended imports of beef from four Australian slaughterhouses and imposed 80 percent tariffs on barley shipments from the country.

He added, "It just doesn't worry Australian exporters, it worries exporters from around the world".

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".

Also. more than 50 vessels carrying more than US$500 million (S$669 million) in Australian coal have also been stranded near Chinese ports as the diplomatic spat cut into trade.

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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