Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Australia takes China wine dispute to WTO

Australia has already taken Beijing to the WTO over its tariffs on Australian barley. File Australia has already taken Beijing to the WTO over its tariffs on Australian barley. File
Adrian Cunningham | 19 June, 2021, 14:07

China in November slapped tariffs of up to 218 percent on Australian wines, which it said were being "dumped" into the Chinese market at subsidised prices.

Australia will file a complaint with the World Trade Organization against China's anti-dumping duties on the country's wine, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said on Saturday.

China's 200 per cent tax on Australian wine, crippling the industry, has prompted the government to go to the World Trade Organization in an attempt to solve the trade dispute.

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The confirmation the interim tariffs would be locked in for five years in March paved the way for Australia to formally refer the dispute to the WTO.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's vocal push for an global inquiry into the origins of Covid in 2020, eventually backed by 120 countries, caused tensions to rise between China and Australia.

The minister has been open about the possibility of using the WTO to address the wine dispute, telling ABC last month, "We've always said that we would take a very principled approach when dealing with these trade disputes, and if we think our industry has been harmed or injured, we will take all necessary steps and measures to try to address that".

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.

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly said his government would not give in to economic coercion.

Saturday's move came a week after the G7 summit of advanced economies responded to Australia's call for a tougher stance on China's trade practices and its more assertive stance on a global scale.

The G7 summit ended on June 12 with the announcement of US-led plans to counter China's trillion-dollar "Belt and Road Initiative", the hallmark of its efforts to extend economic influence around the world.

The group promised to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure investment for low- and middle-income countries.

B3W is seen as a direct competition with China's efforts, which has been widely criticized for putting small countries on unmanageable debt.

"When there are no consequences for coercive behavior, there are few incentives for moderation", he said.

Morrison received clear support from the United States in his administration's confrontation with China, as well as from French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Paris after the G7 meeting.