China has ramped up its ongoing trade dispute with Australia by confirming it will hit imports of Aussie wine with levies of over 200 percent for the next five years.
While Beijing had already imposed interim measures on these imports, its final confirmation will lock in tariffs of 116 to 218 percent until 2026. The new measures went into force on March 28th.
The country's Ministry of Commerce has used antidumping rules to justify the decision, alleging that Australian winemakers were benefiting from illegal government subsidies and shipping bottles to China at costs that harm domestic wine producers.
Canberra has strongly refuted these claims, arguing that there are political motives behind the move, which is just one of a series of measures China has imposed on Australian goods in recent months.
In particular, it has been suggested Beijing has been retaliating to calls from the Australian government for an independent inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
David Littleproud, Australia’s minister for agriculture, drought and emergency management, told CNBC he was "deeply disappointed" with the decision, adding that Australia provides fewer subsidies to its winemakers than almost any other OECD country.
"Australian wine is the second highest price point wine in China," he said. "You don't go and dump a high-quality product … into a market such as China."
Industry groups have also responded with disappointment to the tariffs, but have suggested it will lead to producers looking to other markets for their goods.
Chief executive of trade group Australian Grape & Wine Tony Battaglene said: "Our focus now is two-fold. Firstly, we're working with industry and the Australian government to assess options available to us within the Chinese system, and internationally. And secondly, we're focusing on growing demand for Australian wine in other markets across Asia, Europe, the US and the UK."