China will impose temporary anti-dumping measures on imported wine from Australia from November 28, the Commerce Ministry said on Friday, in a move likely to further escalate trade and diplomatic tensions between Beijing and Canberra.
Importers suspected of bringing in products to sell them below cost to gain market share, a process known as dumping, will have to pay deposits to the Chinese customs authority, which will be calculated based on the different rates that the authority has assigned. to various companies. according to the statement.
The tariffs come three months after China launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation on Australian wine, and they follow a series of other measures banning coal, copper and barley imports this year.
Beijing’s latest move comes against a backdrop of worsening political relations between the countries after Canberra called for an international investigation into the origins of the new coronavirus.
China is the main market for Australia’s wine exports and is also Australia’s largest trading partner, trading two-way trade worth A $ 235 billion ($ 170 billion) last year.
China launched an anti-dumping investigation into Australian wine imports in August at the request of the China Alcoholic Beverages Association. Earlier this month, the association called for retrospective tariffs on Australian wine imports.
Antidumping deposits announced on Friday range from 107.1 to 212.1 percent, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement.
The rate required from Treasury Wine was 169.3 percent, the highest among all the wine companies mentioned in the statement.
Success of Treasury Wine
Shares of Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates Ltd, the world’s largest listed winemaker, fell more than 13 percent before being suspended pending an announcement.
The company said it is reviewing the details of the provisional measures “as a matter of urgency” to update the market.
“We don’t think there is any case to answer, so without looking at the details it’s obviously disappointing,” said Tony Battaglene, chief executive of the Australian Grape and Wine industry group, noting that he had not yet seen the Chinese statement.
China’s Commerce Ministry did not specify how long the measures will last. He said he examined samples from some Australian companies, including Treasury Wines, Casella Wines and Australia Swan Vintage.
“We will obviously defend this vigorously,” Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told reporters, adding that the tariffs were “quite outrageous.”
“We will exhaust all available avenues through the WTO,” he added.
A spokesman for Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Reuters news agency.
Teaching Australia a lesson
The two nations have been at a stalemate since 2018 when Canberra banned Huawei Technologies Co from building its 5G mobile phone network. Added to the complaints was Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak, a move that hurt China’s pride and sparked a torrent of criticism that Australia is a puppet of the United States.
“This latest coup by the Chinese government shows that Beijing is determined to teach Australia a lesson that can reverberate around the world,” John Blaxland, a former intelligence officer who is now a professor of international security at the Bloomberg News Agency, told the Bloomberg news agency. the Australian National University.
“While it is important for Australia not to give in to this pressure, it also shows that the nation’s traders have no choice but to quickly recalibrate and diversify their markets.”
Morrison sought to relieve some of the pressure this week, giving a speech that praised China for lifting its people out of poverty. Australia, he said, wants a “mutually beneficial” relationship and insisted his government is not on the side of the United States in containing China. The Beijing Foreign Ministry highlighted the “positive comments.”