China Opens up to Australian Wine

Tough times ahead for Italian wineries

Anthony Albanese e Wang Yi

A well-known saying goes: “Bad luck comes in threes.” After Italy’s worst 2023 grape harvest since 1947 and logistical problems caused by the Yemeni Houthis, costing Italian exports billions of euros, came the news that “on March 29, 2024, the Chinese government will remove anti-dumping and compensatory duties on wine imports from Australia.” According to British newspaper The Guardian, “Australia’s surplus wine is estimated at 2.8 billion bottles,” which can now be shipped to China.

In early 2021, Beijing imposed prohibitive duties of 218% on Australian wine imports as part of a series of trade retaliatory measures against Canberra. This has led to the collapse of one of Australia’s main areas of foreign trade, which is valued at $1.2 billion per year. China began “building” barriers for trade with Australia in 2020 after Canberra barred Chinese electronics giant Huawei from bidding to build a national 5G network in Australia.

Relations between Beijing and Canberra began to improve in 2022 after the Labor Party came to power in Australia and formed a center-left government led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Australia on March 21 for the first time in 7 years. During talks with China’s diplomatic chief, Albanese immediately dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s by reaffirming Australia’s “full support” for the principle of “one and indivisible China” amid disputes between Beijing and Taiwan. In addition, the prime minister reiterated his intention to “make efforts to promote constructive development of bilateral relations between Australia and China.” For his part, Wang Yi emphasized that it is necessary to overcome differences “on the basis of mutual respect,” as well as “jointly promote the construction of a more mature, stable, and profitable global strategic partnership.”

Following the appointment of Albanese as prime minister, who has repeatedly recalled the Labor Party’s “historic contribution to the establishment of diplomatic relations with China,” China’s Ministry of Commerce launched a “total review” of duties in November 2023. First of all, it removed duties on imports of Australian coal, timber, and barley. Now it’s time to open up Chinese markets to Australian wine, a move that has already alarmed Old World producers and exporters.