Australia “will ardently defend” its wine sector against Beijing surcharges

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Australia “will ardently defend” its wine sector against the anti-dumping measures on imported wines imposed by Beijing, said Friday the Minister of Agriculture, who intends to seize the World Trade Organization (WTO).

• Read also: China imposes anti-dumping measures on Australian wine

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“The Australian government will vigorously defend this sector” against this decision, declared David Littleproud, who intends to “exhaust all possible means (of appeal) via the WTO” against these surcharges announced Friday by Beijing.

As of Saturday, imports of Australian wine will be subject to surcharges of between 107.1 and 212.1%.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said the measure is intended to address “material injury” suffered by the Chinese wine industry as a result of dumping Australian wine.

“We have ten days to appeal, and we will work closely with the industry on this,” Littleproud said, suggesting the move could be political and linked to growing tensions between the two countries.

“We are deeply concerned about this situation,” he added. “In light of recent comments from China, it gives the impression that this decision is based on something other than some wrongdoing on the part of the wine industry.”

Littleproud called for talks with China – although ministerial-level contacts have dried up in recent months – but said Australia could look to the WTO for help.

“It is obvious that we are going to exhaust all the possibilities (of appeal) offered by the WTO,” he said.

Under WTO rules, member states can request that tariffs or other trade barriers be reviewed.

If the measure announced by Beijing were found to be unfair, Australia could obtain the right to impose taxes of a similar value on Chinese products.

In recent months, the relationship between Canberra and Beijing has grown strained.

Australia has notably excluded the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from the deployment of the 5G network on the immense island-continent and has requested an independent investigation into the origin of the coronavirus.

China, Australia’s largest trading partner, recently retaliated against Canberra, suspending imports of a large number of agricultural products, including beef, barley and timber.

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