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China opens door to Aussie wine imports

thedrinksbusiness by Neal Baker 18/11/2014  


China will erode import tariffs for Australian farm products – including wine – over the next decade, after the signing of a landmark trade agreement.


Australian wine sold in China currently faces tariffs of between 14% and 30% according to ABC News, but the new deal will remove all charges.


It is hoped that the deal will provide a lucrative business opportunity for winemakers to sell their products at an attractive price to China’s growing middle class.


China is already Australia’s top trading partner, with two-way trade of around AUS$150 billion (£84bn) in 2013.


Australia, which is in the middle of a transition from “mining to dining” in terms of exports, called the deal best ever between Beijing and a Western country.


The announcement comes after extensive talks that have been going on for the last 10 years, and bypasses disagreements over major trade objectives by each country.


Talks regarding Australia’s desire to sell major commodities like wheat, cotton and sugar, and China’s wish to change the Australian practice of insisting all state-owned company investment be scrutinised by regulators, have been extended for a further three years.


“This has been a 10-year journey, but we have finally made it,” Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said.


Australia ChinaThe percentage of Australian exports entering China tariff-free will rise to 85% when the agreement enters into force, 93% in four years and 95% within 10 years.


Estimates that the deal is worth around £10bn to the Australian economy have been disputed, as a more detailed model of the positive impact is expected soon.


The deal follows an increased focus on tapping into eastern markets by western wine producers of late.


In September, promotional body Wine Australia hosted the largest tasting of Australian wine in Japan following a successful trade deal, while agreements between Chile and Japan have also paid dividends, with Chilean wine imports increasing 20% per year on average.