China stepped up its pressure on Australia on Friday with the imposition of anti-dumping measures on imported Australian wines, the latest sign of growing diplomatic tensions between the two trading partners.
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In a statement, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said a preliminary investigation shows that the Chinese wine industry has suffered “material injury” as a result of dumping Australian wine. As of Saturday, imports of Australian wine will be subject to surcharges of between 107.1 and 212.1%, the document said.
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Dumping, of which Beijing accuses Canberra, is a practice which consists in particular in selling abroad at prices lower than those practiced on the national market.
In August, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced the launch of investigations targeting imported Australian wines throughout 2019, amid growing tensions between China and Australia.
Relations between Beijing and Canberra have been strained since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison aligned himself with the United States, in April calling for an international investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus epidemic.
At the end of April, the Chinese ambassador to Canberra, Cheng Jingye, warned that Australia’s request for an investigation into Covid-19 could lead to a boycott by Chinese consumers.
“Maybe people will say, ‘Why drink Australian wine? Eat Australian beef? “, said the ambassador in a thinly veiled threat.
Australian wine exports to the Asian country reached 1.25 billion Australian dollars (760 million euros) last year, according to Canberra. It is the largest export market for this product.
Australia’s main trading partner, China had previously restricted imports of Australian beef, imposed tariffs on Australian barley and discouraged its citizens from traveling to the country.
For its part, Australia has said it will “ardently defend” its wine sector against the surcharges imposed by Beijing.