Calls for wine support as China tariffs deadline looms

Wine consumption across the world has dropped to its lowest level in almost three decades.

Wine consumption across the world has dropped to its lowest level in almost three decades. Photo: Getty

Australia’s wine industry is in desperate need of financial support even if China moves to strip punitive tariffs, the opposition says.

The government needed to step in to stop foreclosures and help a struggling industry after years of blockages to the lucrative China market put the industry on a knife’s edge, Nationals leader David Littleproud said.

“The government needs to act now to give some financial support to get them through this phase and hope that China will at least remove these tariffs,” he told AAP.

“But even if the tariffs are removed, it’s still going to take time to move product, and for these producers to be able to financially survive this is critical.”

Mr Littleproud said he’s heard of wine producers in South Australia’s Riverland region about to go under “because they simply don’t have a market to sell to”.

A World Trade Organisation report into Australia’s complaint about China’s punitive tariffs has been handed to both parties, AAP understands.

Similar to the barley dispute before the organisation, the report will not be made public as both sides have a number of weeks to review the findings.

A spokesperson for Trade Minister Don Farrell said it would be inappropriate to comment as the ruling timetable is confidential.

Neither party can confirm whether they have received the ruling except to say that the WTO indicated the final report will be issued in the second half of 2023.

China’s embassy in Canberra did not respond to a request for comment.

Australia is hoping to repeat what happened with barley trade barriers after Canberra agreed to suspend its WTO complaint and China moved to reinstate exports to prevent the organisation’s ruling from being made public.

The WTO report gets sent to other members after three weeks if a negotiated settlement between the two parties isn’t reached.

This puts the deadline for China’s response by the end of October at the latest.

Beijing has offered to drop the wine tariffs in exchange for more favourable treatment of its steel.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt rejected any package deal, saying they were separate issues.

Senator Farrell will travel to China for the second time as minister in November.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is also scheduled to visit Beijing for leader talks before the end of the year.


Topics: China, wine
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