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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Hunter’s anger at China’s wine tax

Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon has joined the growing chorus of anger at China’s decision to slap tariffs – up to 212 per cent – on Australian wine from this weekend.

Beijing’s preliminary stance was roundly criticised on Friday 27 November after the Chinese Ministry of Commerce determined that Australian exporters had been dumping wine into its market.

And, the super-power’s position could have a devastating effect on the Hunter Valley’s industry, which boasts more than 150 world-class wineries.

Under the new measure, Chinese importers will have to pay a duty levied against Australian wine companies.

This is expected to vary from 107.1 to 212.1 per cent, depending on which company has produced the wine.

Many experts believe this action will hurt local producers, regardless of its preliminary status, because it increases the cost of wine and discourages exports.

While the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association remains unavailable for comment, the local member took a different tact – laying the blame on the Australian Government.

“The federal government’s mismanagement of our relationship with our largest trading partner is now hitting the Hunter economy hard,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“We’ve seen a block on our coal exports and, now, a job-destroying tariff on our wine.”

Australia’s Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud also expressed his disappointment but accused China of breaching its free trade agreement.

“The fact is Australia produces among the least subsidised product in the world and provides the second lowest level of farm subsidies in the OECD,” he explained.

“[Friday’s] decision is a seriously concerning development and one which Australia will be vigorously fighting against.

“The Australian Government categorically rejects any allegation that our wine producers are dumping product into China.

“We believe there is no basis or any evidence for these claims.

“We’ll continue to work with our wine industry and Chinese authorities as part of the ongoing dumping investigation, however we will of course consider all of our options moving forward.

“Australian wine is hugely popular both in China and across the globe due to its high-quality and we are confident that a full and thorough investigation will confirm this.”