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Aussie wine producers still feeling China tariff hit

www.9news.com.au by Richard Wood02/08/2021  

Australian winemakers have increased exports to new and current markets but have been unable to offset a major decline in sales to mainland China, a report says.

The trade dispute between Canberra and Beijing was the main driver behind a 10 per cent drop in Australia's total wine exports to $2.56 billion during the 2020 to 2021 financial year, data by industry body Wine Australia shows.

The total value of exports to mainland China fell by 33 per cent over the past 12 months.

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Australian wine exports to China were hit with tariffs of more than 200 per cent earlier this year.

While Chinese trade sanctions hit Australian wine exporters hard, a shortage in wine available for export also accounted for the declining trade.

But exports to other nations rose dramatically. Excluding mainland China, they increased by 12 per cent in value to $1.96 billion.

Australian wine exports to the UK reached their highest level in a decade in 2021, climbing by 21 per cent over the past 12 months.

"There was a surge in wine sales in the off-premises because of the COVID-19-related shutdowns of restaurants and bars as well as some exporters sending wine to market ahead of Brexit because they were concerned about the red tape they might endure after Brexit," Rachel Triggs, Wine Australia's general manager for corporate affairs and regulation, said.

Ms Triggs said that several markets in Southeast Asia were performing above expectations and showing double-digit growth, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

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Australian wine exports to the US fell during the past financial year. They declined by 7 per cent in value, to $400 million.

Last month the Federal Government confirmed it is taking China to the World Trade Organisation over the anti-dumping duties it has imposed on Australian wine.

Relations between Beijing and Canberra plummeted last year after Australia called for an international inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and introduced foreign interference legislation.

It triggered trade reprisals from China targeting Australian exports such as wine, coal, barley, timber and seafood.

Increased wine shipments to new and existing markets were not able to offset the 45 per cent decline in sales to mainland China in the financial year that ended in June, industry group Wine Australia's latest export report shows.