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China Nearing Completion of Australia Wine Tariff Removal, Says Business Leader

The Australian government is hopeful that the Chinese government will soon lift heavy tariffs on Australian wine imports. This was announced by the Australia China Business Council during a recent meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, where it was emphasized that China is “opening up” to foreign investment. While this development is positive, David Olsson, the National President of the business lobby group, has cautioned against high expectations of all producers returning to the market once the sanctions are lifted.

Speaking to Bloomberg during the Boao Forum in China, Olsson highlighted concerns from Australian businesses about the importance of predictability and certainty, especially for longer-term investments in the Chinese market. He acknowledged that while Australian business leaders understood the significance of the China market, they were not expecting a return to the pre-tariff era due to ongoing geopolitical tensions.

Trade relations between Australia and China have shown improvement since the election of the center-left Labor government in May 2022. Beijing has gradually lifted trade sanctions imposed on Australian exports during tensions, including restrictions on barley, timber, and coal. However, the most significant remaining sanctions are on Australian wine, with tariffs as high as 218%.

The Australian government is optimistic that wine tariffs will be removed by the end of March. If this happens, there is hope for a significant portion of Australian wine to return to the Chinese market. However, not all of it is expected to. Some producers are already exploring alternative markets as they wait for news on when or if trade relations will improve further between Australia and China.

By Samantha Jones

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