Industry body Australian Grape & Wine has urged wine lovers not to boycott Chinese-owned wineries in Australia.
A social media campaign urging Australians to steer clear of 41 wineries has been sparked by a viral list shared by the Vino e Amigos Facebook page. It follows China placing punitive import duties on Australian wine last month.
China has imposed a preliminary determination in the anti-dumping investigation that involves an import duty on all Australian produced bottled wine ranging from 107% to over 212%. The duties will be in place for at least four months and possibly as long as 12 months.
It also announced today that it will temporarily impose anti-subsidy fees on some Australian wine imports from Friday.
Anti-subsidy deposits of 6.3% will be added to existing tariffs for Treasury Wine Estates, Casella Family Wines and Swan Vintage. Pernod Ricard will attract a rate of 6.4%.
Australian Grape & Wine said the preliminary finding was “disappointing”.
“On all available evidence and information, Australian wine exports to China have not been at dumped prices,” it said. “Essentially this decision will close the China market for much of Australian bottled wine exports, including those produced by Chinese owned companies here in Australia.
“This type of campaign fails to recognise that all grape, wine and export businesses contribute to Australian regional investment, jobs and economic growth. Boycotting companies because of their investors is harmful to the Australian economy and particularly to rural and regional Australia.”
Tony Battaglene, Chief Executive of Australian Grape & Wine added: “I am outraged and disappointed that this campaign targets Chinese owned businesses. The Australia -Chinese community is an important and valued part of the Australian wine sector. They make great wine, employ local people and generate money into the local and national economy.
‘’I would also emphasise that the Chinese consumers also continue to value our wine, but will be unable to access our wine due to the unjustified and punitive import duties that have been placed on our wine in China.’’
‘’If Australians really want to support the grape and wine sector, then buy a case of Australian wine for your friends, give it to them for Christmas and then every time you share a bottle with family and friends you will know you are helping rural and regional Australia. Let’s not unjustifiably target a group who are valued members of the community.”
There have also been doubts raised over the Chinese-owned wineries list. When contacted by news.com.au, Wine Australia confirmed it did not record ownership of wineries according to nationality.
“The Foreign Investment Review Board also does not specifically include vineyards and wineries in its latest Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land, although it confirms the estimated proportion of agricultural land with a level of foreign interest at June 30, 2019 was 13.8%,” it added.
Allegations of trade distorting subsidies “defy logic“
Australian Grape & Wine said it is deeply disappointed by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s (MOFCOM) decision today to implement preliminary countervailing duties of 6.3-6.4% on Australian bottled wine imports.
“The allegation that Australian grape growers and winemakers receive trade distorting subsidies demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of our sector” said Battaglene. “The OECD ranks Australia as the second least subsidised agriculture sector in the world”.
“Australian grape growers and winemakers have been competitive in China because of their efficiency and the quality of the product. We don’t understand how Australia is being accused of benefitting from subsidies, while other wine producing nations enjoy significant government subsidies and continue to export to China”.
Each year, the OECD’s highly-regarded Producer Support Estimate (PSE) reports on the levels of trade distorting subsidies that national governments provide to their agriculture sector. In 2020, the OECD estimated that farmers received around 2% of receipts as a result of government measures, second only to New Zealand. By contrast, according to the report, Chinese farmers receive a PSE of around 13.3% and EU countries provide around 19% on average.
“Clearly, Australian grape growers and winemakers refute these findings. However, we will continue to engage in MOFCOM’s process as cooperatively as possible,” said Battaglene. “The facts speak for themselves. We are not dumping wine in China, and as the OECD points out, our producers are not subsidised in any way that would harm the Chinese wine sector.
“Chinese consumers buy Australian wines because they enjoy them, it’s that simple. It’s a pity they won’t have the opportunity to do this in the near future” said Mr Battaglene.
“My message to all Australians right now is this: Buy local! Enjoy your favourite Australian wine in moderation this summer and raise a glass to the grape growers and winemakers doing it tough. They’ll thank you for it.”