A prominent Albany winery owner has welcomed the new free trade agreement between China and Australia announced by the Federal Government last week, describing it as overdue.
Wignalls Wines owner Rob Wignall has exported wine to China for more than 10 years and visited the country several times.
The current tariff on Australian wine exported to China is 14 per cent for bottled and 20 per cent for bulk.
Mr Wignall said with tariffs dropping to zero over the next four years under the new deal, Australia’s competitiveness in the lucrative Chinese agribusiness market would receive a boost.
“It means international competitiveness with countries who have done this a great deal of time ago with China,” he said. “It will assist the wine and agriculture industries to become competitive with other trading partners, like Chile and New Zealand, which have had zero tariffs since 2008 (and) bring us onto an even playing field.”
The Australian Grape and Wine Authority predicts “enormous potential” for economic benefits to the wine sector, with almost 37 million litres of Australian wine exported to China last financial year, worth $210 million.
Mr Wignall said Chinese buyers had purchased two-thirds of a sea container of his winery’s cabernet merlot six months ago, but had been waiting for the FTA to be approved before shipment to Linyi.
“They have been sitting on it waiting for the laws to change,” he said.
Australia wine exports to China have increased by 8 per cent in volume and 17 per cent in value over the past five years, with Australia in the top 10 bottled wine suppliers to the country, according to AGWA.