Trade minister believes wine spat with China is close to resolution

Australian vintages were among China's favourite tipples until Beijing hit imports with tariffs.

Australian vintages were among China's favourite tipples until Beijing hit imports with tariffs. Photo: China Commerce

Australia would win its dispute with China over tariffs on wine exports worth $1 billion if the matter returned to the World Trade Organisation, the trade minister says.

Beijing slapped sanctions worth $20 billion on Australian products during the height of diplomatic tensions in 2020.

China is now reviewing sanctions on wine under a five-month process after the Albanese government agreed to suspend a dispute lodged with the WTO until March 31.

Don Farrell said there was “no hold up” with that process, and the government was waiting for Beijing to complete it.

“I’m hopeful that at the end of that process, China will lift all of its tariffs on Australian wine,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

“But if they don’t, then we will continue with our World Trade Organisation dispute and we will win that dispute.

“Everything’s heading in the right direction.”

In a similar process, China lifted tariffs on Australian barley in August last year after Labor paused a WTO dispute in exchange for a review.

In total, sanctions worth $2 billion remain on wine, rock lobster and some abattoirs.

Senator Farrell recently met his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao on the sidelines of the WTO’s ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi and received confirmation that the tariff issue was “on track” to be resolved by the end of March.

Senator Farrell has met his Chinese counterpart six times since May last year.

In response to Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s remarks that attempts to contain China will only sow discord in the region, Senator Farrell said Australia wanted peace and prosperity.

Australia was “underdone” with its ASEAN neighbours, he added, and should be doing more trade in the region, following the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Australia special summit held in Melbourne last week.

“We tend to fly over ASEAN countries into East Asia,” he said.

“We want to do more business … with our as ASEAN colleagues, and the general sentiment of the week was they want to do that trade with us.”


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