With Australian barley and beef already in the sights of the Chinese government, Beijing is now turning its eyes towards Australian wine as it opens up an investigation into whether or not Australian vintners deliberately dumped cheap wine into the Chinese market.
Tensions are running high between Canberra and Beijing as the Australian government starts flexing its muscle of Chinese incursions into the busy commercial water ways of the South China Sea.
In 2019, the value of wine exports to China were valued at just over $1.2 billion, and with the devastating bush fire season and COVID-19 taking hold, a lot of vineyards will be anxiously awaiting the outcome of the investigation.
In a statement, local vintner association Australian Grape & Wine, has taken a conciliatory approach.
“Australian Grape & Wine is aware of the request by the Chinese industry to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFOCM) to launch an anti-dumping investigation on Australian wine in China,” said Tony Battaglene, chief executive of Australian Grape & Wine.
“We believe that the Australian grape and wine sector is well placed to respond to this investigation and Australian Grape & Wine and our exporting companies will cooperate fully.
“China is an important market for Australian wine and our wine is in demand from Chinese consumers.
“Australia has a large number of exporters with close cultural ties to China. The Australian industry welcomes the opportunity to build on these ties and work with the Chinese industry and government to further technical cooperation and develop lasting relationships.”
Speaking to the ABC, Victorian wine expert, James Hall, said, on average, a bottle of Australian wine in China costs three time as much as the locally-produced counterpart, with many in the Australian industry believing this more of a political than trade issue.