Australia to Take China to WTO Over Wine Tariffs

19 Juin, 2021, 14:06 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • Beijing has imposed tough economic sanctions on a range of Australian products in recent months

Bottles of Australian wine are seen at a store selling imported wine in Beijing, China November 27, 2020.

The Australian government has chose to pull the trigger and launch a second action against China at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), this time over Beijing's imposition of hefty tariffs on wine exports.

According to ABC television, Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan stated that Australia intends with this decision to defend the interests of its wine industry, which has suffered "serious damage" from "the actions taken by the Government of China".

Australia says it remains open to engaging directly with China to resolve the issue.

Many in Canberra believe the measures are punishment for pushing back against Beijing's influence operations in Australia, rejecting Chinese investment in sensitive areas and publicly calling for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The decision comes amid worsening relations with Australia's biggest trading partner.

In March, China's Ministry of Commerce confirmed the huge tariffs on Australian wine would remain for five years.

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Australia is now progressing a WTO action Beijing's decision to slap 80 percent tariffs on barley exports, the action has been joined by Canada, Russia, and more recently New Zealand.

Mr Tehan acknowledged a WTO dispute could take between two and four years to resolve.

"A well-functioning WTO that sets clear rules arbitrates disputes objectively and efficiently and penalises bad behaviour when it occurs: this can be one of the most powerful tools the global community has to counter economic coercion", he told the Perth USAsia Centre on June 8. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously warned that his government would respond to all countries that tried to use "economic cohesion" to punish Australian producers.

Saturday's move came just a week after a summit of the G7 grouping of advanced economies echoed Australia's call for a tougher stand against China's trade practices and its more assertive stance globally.

The G7 summit ended on June 12 with the announcement of USA -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 promised to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure investment for low- and middle-income countries.

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

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