Australia will suspend its case at the World Trade Organization over China’s tariffs on wine imports ahead of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s first trip to the country next month.
(Bloomberg) — Australia will suspend its case at the World Trade Organization over China’s tariffs on wine imports ahead of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s first trip to the country next month.
China will undertake a review of its wine tariffs that’s expected to take five months, Albanese’s office said in a press release on Sunday. During that period, Australia will suspend its WTO dispute over China’s actions.
The prime minister’s visit to China from Nov. 4-7, the first by an Australian leader since 2016, is another sign of warming relations between the two governments. Earlier this month, China released Australian journalist Cheng Lei from about three years of detention for allegedly passing national secrets to an overseas institution.
China responded to the Australian move on the same day. The two countries have had “friendly negotiations” regarding wine and wind tower disputes and reached a consensus on properly solving them, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a statement on Sunday. It didn’t provide specific details about next steps related to its wine tariffs.
China slapped steep tariffs on Australian wine in 2020 as diplomatic relations between the nations soured, with trade in other commodities such as coal and seafood also affected. The wine market was Australia’s most valuable prior to the implementation of duties, worth more than A$1 billion ($631.4 million) in 2018-19 and 2019-20, according to the nation’s agriculture department.
“We’re very confident that this will result in once again Australian wine, a great product, being able to go to China without the tariffs,” Albanese said at a press conference on Sunday. He added that this was “critical,” as the wine industry has struggled to fill the gap left by China’s business.
The move toward ending duties on wine follows Beijing’s removal of penalties on the nation’s barley exports in August that allowed for a resumption of trade. Australian Agriculture Minister Murray Watt noted in a post on social media platform X that the agreement on wine follows the “same process as removal of trade barriers on Aussie barley.”
Albanese will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang in Beijing and will also attend the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
“I look forward to further engaging with President Xi and Premier Li in Australia’s national interest,” Albanese said in the press statement.
Read more: Australia Confirms Chinese Firm’s Port Lease as Relations Thaw
–With assistance from Hallie Gu, Ben Sharples and Jessica Sui.
(Adds China response in 4th paragraph)
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.