China Nearing Completion of Australia Wine Tariff Removal, Says Business Leader

China’s Wine Sanctions: Optimism vs. Caution from Australian Business Leaders

The Australian government is hopeful that the Chinese government will lift heavy tariffs on Australian wine imports. Recent business meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi have emphasized China’s “opening up” to foreign investment, but David Olsson, the National President of a business lobby, has cautioned against high expectations for all producers returning to the market once the sanctions are lifted.

Olsson spoke to Bloomberg during the Boao Forum in China and highlighted concerns from Australian businesses about the importance of predictability and certainty for longer-term investments in the Chinese market. He acknowledged that while Australian business leaders understand the significance of the China market, they are not expecting a return to the pre-tariff era due to ongoing geopolitical tensions.

Trade relations between Australia and China have improved since May 2022 when a center-left Labor government was elected. Beijing has gradually lifted trade sanctions imposed on Australian exports during tensions, including restrictions on barley, timber, and coal. However, significant remaining sanctions are on Australian wine, with tariffs as high as 218%. The Australian government is optimistic that wine tariffs will be removed by March 2023. Olsson mentioned that although there is hope for a significant portion of Australian wine to return to the Chinese market, not all of it is expected to. He noted that some producers are already exploring alternative markets.

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