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China ‘very close’ to ending Australia wine tariffs, business chief says

China ‘very close’ to ending Australia wine tariffs, business chief says
A worker walks through the processing yard at Rob Dolan Estate in Warrandyte South, Victoria, Australia, on Monday, March 18, 2024.

The Chinese government is “very close” to lifting the heavy tariffs on Australian wine imports, a business lobby said, while tempering expectations about all producers returning to the market after the sanctions are lifted.

The Australia China Business Council hosted a meeting for business leaders with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his visit to Australia this month, where Beijing’s top diplomat emphasised that his country was “opening up” to foreign investment, according to the lobby group’s National President David Olsson.

Olsson, in an interview with Bloomberg on the sidelines of the Boao Forum in China on Wednesday, said while Australian businesses understood the importance of the China market, there were concerns about the need for predictability and certainty, particularly with longer term investments.

“Australian business leaders are under no illusions that we’re going to go back to the good old days, those things have gone past,” he said. “Geopolitical tensions will remain.”

Economic relations between Australia and its largest trading partner China have improved markedly since the election of the centre-left Labour government in May 2022. Trade sanctions imposed by Beijing on Australian exports at the height of tensions have steadily been lifted, including restrictions on barley, timber and coal.

The largest remaining sanctions are those on Australian wine, including tariffs as high as 218%. The Australian government is hopeful the wine tariffs will be lifted by the end of March.

“We’re getting very close certainly in relation to the removal of tariffs around wine, which is a big one for Australia,” said Olsson.

“We expect to see a significant proportion of the wine coming back into China, but not all of it. A lot of it is just looking to other markets.”


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