Business & Economy

Beijing, Canberra locked in trade dispute over Australian wines

Sydney, Australia, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- China and Australia are engaged in another trade dispute after Beijing began an anti-dumping probe into imports of Australian wine worth about $724 million annually.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told public broadcaster ABC on Wednesday that the government was taking the matter “very seriously” but added that “we reject absolutely any suggestion of Australian wine being dumped in China.”

“I mean, it’s the second highest priced wine in China. And of the highest quality. So we don’t accept that suggestion. This will be about an 18-month process. It’s not the first time that there have been these sorts of reviews done in China and we’ll deal with it through those appropriate channels,” he added.

Morrison’s remarks came after the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced on Tuesday that it had launched an anti-dumping investigation into wines imported from Australia “in containers holding 2 liters or less” to determine whether these products were sold at a lower price or whether they received government subsidies.

In May, China suspended imports of Australian beef for alleged breaches of its labeling and health certificate requirements and subsequently announced an anti-dumping investigation into Australian barley and threatened to impose an 80 percent tariff on the product.

Tensions between the two countries have been escalating since Australia called for a “transparent” investigation into the origin of the novel coronavirus, as well as China’s handling of the pandemic.

Within days of the proposal, Chinese ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, suggested a possible boycott of Australian products, such as meat and wines, as well as services, in an interview with the Australian Financial Review.

Cheng warned that, if tensions escalated, “tourists may have second thoughts. The parents of the students would also think whether this place which they found is not so friendly, even hostile, whether this is the best place to send their kids here.”

On Wednesday however, Morrison stressed that Australia has an important relationship with China, its biggest trading partner but one with which it also has political and ideological differences.

“Our trade with China has never been at a higher level actually at the moment in terms of both its volume and its value. So, despite the issues that you’ve referred to, the trade continues,” Morrison said.

Trade between the two countries during the 2018-19 financial year stood at $170.17 billion. EFE-EPA

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