WTO panel to examine wine row between Australia and China

Imports and Exports | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Experts have been called in to mediate a trade dispute between Australia and China.


A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel is to be established to investigate the ongoing row between China and Australia over tariffs on wine. 
China had been the largest destination by value for Australian wine in recent years, making it a lucrative market for producers in the country. 
However, Beijing suddenly imposed anti-dumping tariffs on the beverage in March last year, meaning exporters had to pay levies of anywhere between 116.2 percent and 218.4 percent on wine sold in containers of two liters or less. 
China claimed Australian winemakers had been selling the beverage below the cost of production and had been subsidized in a bid to increase market share and drive out the competition. Its government said the tariffs would be in place for five years. 
The news came soon after China had also imposed levies on Australian barley for alleged anti-competitive behavior, leading some Australian senators to claim the taxes were the result of Australia’s criticism of Chinese human rights policies and their banning of Chinese 5G technology. 
Whatever the reasoning, wineries say they have been hit hard by the extra charges. Australian Grape and Wine chief executive Tony Battaglene told ABC News: “We're seeing all sorts of border delays at the moment, so essentially the market is closed to us.” 
He added that a significant volume of this year’s grape harvest is now going unharvested due to lack of demand and too much wine already in storage tanks, something that is likely to affect all of Australia’s winegrowing regions over the coming months. 
A WTO dispute was activated last year and a panel of three independent experts will now be established to examine the issue, although it could be another year before there is any resolution. China will also have the opportunity to provide a rebuttal to Australia’s claims ahead of a meeting in Geneva in June.