Australia-China WTO wine dispute resolution advances

The Department of Foreign Affairs has welcomed an announcement by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that panelists have been appointed to adjudicate Australia’s challenge to the anti-dumping duties imposed on Australian bottled wine by China.

The composition of the panel moves the WTO dispute settlement process forward after Australia initiated the dispute in 2021. The next key milestone will be for Australia and China to file written submissions, at a date to be agreed with the panel.

The Australian Government said it is committed to defending the interests of Australian wine makers and will continue to use the WTO system to stand up for the rights of Australian exporters.

China imposed heavy tariffs on Australian-made wines in 2020 that have decimated the $1.3 billion export market and affected about 2000 different Australian groups.

Australian Grape & Wine welcomed the announcement that panelists have been appointed.

Tony Battaglene, Chief Executive of Australian Grape & Wine said: “This is the next step in the WTO’s dispute resolution process. We were pleased by the cooperation between Chinese and Australian officials in moving quickly through this phase. We also understand that agreement was reached between Australia and China on the forward appeals process, in the absence of a functioning WTO Appellate Body, which is also positive.

“We understand that submissions will now be presented to the panel before a formal hearing later this year. We look forward to demonstrating to the world that Australia produces great wine and does so in a fair and transparent manner.

“We are grateful for the support of the Australian Government in defending the interests of Australian grape growers and winemakers through the established WTO systems for resolving our differences. We remain open to further discussions with China about how this issue can be resolved.

“The anti-dumping duties on Australian bottled wine have effectively stopped Australia’s wine trade with China, to the detriment of our producers, Chinese consumers and Chinese owned businesses that relied on the trade.”

McGuigan turns to Chilean wine to beat tariffs

McGuigan Wines has created a new range of red wines made in Chile that are bound for China to circumvent tariffs on Australian wine.

Parent company Australian Vintage said the new label – called McGuigan Wines of the World – had the capacity to expand to being sourced from other countries.

Treasury Wine Estates has also built its Penfolds brand into a label with wines sourced from other countries including France and the US.

Penfolds is transitioning to a single global release date for its multi country of origin portfolio, commencing in August 2022 when the Australian, Californian and French country of origin wines will be released as the Penfolds Collection.

Penfolds California

Penfolds Managing Director Tom King said the Penfolds Californian portfolio was creating growth in China.

“The real positive from the release in the California collection is that we’re seeing huge demand for it globally, it’s across the board,” he noted. “So we’re having a tough time in terms of managing the allocation of that to where the demand is. Priority markets where we’ve been allocating that are absolutely the US. That is supporting our ambition to build the Australian portfolio and we’re seeing some really strong results at the back of that, and also in China.”

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