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China To Lift Tariffs On Australian Wine

China Australia wine
Visitors wearing face masks walk past a display of Australian wines and other agricultural products at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai (Photo: AP/Mark Schiefelbein)

The Chinese government has announced that it would lift tariffs imposed on Australian wine.

The decision comes at a time when relations between Australia and China have improved following a change in Australian government. This in turn led to meetings between foreign ministers, release of an Aussie journalist and the first visit by an Australian PM to Beijing since 2016.

The tariffs came into place in 2o2o during a diplomatic spat between both the countries. The then Australian PM Scott Morrison had called for an “objective independent assessment” on how Covid-19 began. China had termed it as “ideological bias and political games” intended to assign blame.

The ban had a great impact on Aussie wine farmers and most of them had to accept contracts well below the cost of production. China was Australia’s top win market.

The Australian government welcomed the decision, saying in a statement that the tariffs were lifted at a “critical time for the Australian wine industry.”

He Yadong, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce, said China and Australia are “each other’s important trade partners.”

“We are willing to work with Australia to resolve each other’s concerns through dialogue and consultation and jointly promote the stable and healthy development of bilateral economic and trade relations,” He said.

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The trade in 2019, before the tariffs were in place, was worth $710 million a year to the local economy.

Australia had tried to normalise relations with Beijing by withdrawing complaints it had lodged with the World Trade Organization.

In April, Australia suspended a complaint to the WTO in a bid to reopen the Chinese market to Australian barley, which was one of the products targeted by the tariffs, in what was widely seen as an attempt by the new Australian government to repair relations with Beijing.

The Australian government also halted another WTO dispute with China over sanctions on Australian wine in exchange for China’s review of the tariffs.

It also released a Chinese company’ 99-year lease of the northern port of Darwin.

With inputs from AP