Wine tariffs imposed by Beijing doubled or tripled the price of Australian wine and made the Chinese market unviable for exporters.
The Australian government said on Saturday it was filing a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization over China’s imposition of anti-dumping duties on Australian wine exports, further increasing the trade confrontation with Beijing.
“The government will continue to vigorously defend the interests of Australian winemakers who use the WTO system to resolve our differences,” Dan Tehan, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment, said in a joint press release with the Minister of Trade. ‘Agriculture, David Littleproud. .
Relations with China, already strained after Australia banned Huawei from its nascent 5G broadband network in 2018, have worsened since Canberra called for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, which was first reported in central China last year.
China, Australia’s largest trading partner, responded by imposing tariffs on Australian raw materials, including wine and barley and limited imports of Australian beef, coal and grapes, moves described by the United States as “coercion”. economic “.
Last year, Australia launched a formal appeal to the WTO to call for a review of China’s decision to impose heavy tariffs on Australian barley imports.
Wine rates doubled or tripled in price and made the Chinese market unviable for exporters, the Australian government had previously said.
Australian winemakers shipped only 12 million Australian dollars (US $ 9 million) worth of wine to China during the four months of December to March, up from A $ 325 million (US $ 243 million) a year earlier, according to demonstrated industry data, confirming that new tariffs have been strong. all, however, ended their largest export market.
“Conflict resolution system”
In early June, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on the WTO to address the confrontation between the two countries and days later won the support of the Seven Countries Group for a tougher stance against China’s growing impact. in world trade.
On Saturday, the government said that despite the complaint, Canberra was willing to cooperate with Beijing.
“Australia remains open to contacting China directly to resolve this issue,” Tehan and Littleproud said in a statement.
Saturday’s move came just a week after a G7 group of advanced economies echoed Australia’s call for a tougher stance against China’s trade practices and its more assertive stance on world level.
The G7 summit ended on June 12 with the announcement of U.S.-led plans to counter China’s “Road and Belt Initiative,” the hallmark of its efforts to extend economic influence throughout the world. world.
The group pledged hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure investments for low- and middle-income countries Build Back Better World Project (B3W).
The B3W was considered to aim to fully compete with the efforts of China, which has been widely criticized for engaging in small countries with unmanageable debts.
Morrison attended the summit as part of a G7-plus formula that also attracted leaders from South Korea, South Africa and India, and made it clear he would push other nations into joint action. against China’s aggressive trade policies.
“The most practical way to address economic coercion is to restore the world trade body’s binding conflict resolution system,” he said in a speech just before the summit.
“When there are no consequences for coercive behavior, there are few incentives for moderation,” he said.
Morrison has received explicit support in his government’s confrontation with China from the United States, as well as from French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to Paris after the G7 meeting.