April 19, 2021

Allies raise a glass to Australia amid China wine dispute

From Taiwan to the United States, supporters have pledged to buy Australian wine after China hiked tariffs STR AFP

SYDNEY AUSTRALIA – Australia’s global allies voiced support for the country’s beleaguered wine industry Wednesday, vowing to down a glass to lessen the impact of choking Chinese sanctions.

Anti-dumping tariffs

China on Friday announced it would impose anti-dumping tariffs on Australian wine, the latest salvo in a barrage of trade sanctions that critics say are politically motivated.

In response, supporters including Taiwan and the United States pledged to buy Australian wine, now subject to tariffs of up to 212 percent in China.

Stand with Austraulia

“We stand in solidarity with #Australia by serving #FreedomWine,” Taiwan’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a tweet.

In Washington, the National Security Council said: “Australian wine will be featured at a White House holiday reception this week.”

It added: “Pity vino lovers in China who, due to Beijing’s coercive tariffs on Aussie vintners, will miss out. #AussieAussieAussieOiOiOi!”

Strained relations

Already strained China-Australia relations have worsened since Canberra moved to crack down on Chinese operations in the country and called for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19 after its emergence in central China last year.

Australian winemakers said the latest tariffs would likely mean the lucrative Chinese market would dry up.

Cut costs

Treasury Wine Estates — which produces the popular high-end Penfolds brand — said it would look to other “key luxury growth markets” and cut costs as sales accounting for 30 percent of earnings fall away. 

Members of the Inter-parliamentary Alliance on China, a global bloc of lawmakers from 19 democratic nations, said they would help, with several pledging to switch their New Zealand pinot noir, Norwegian aquavit or Japanese sake for an Aussie tipple.

In Hong Kong, #SolidaritywithAustralia trended on Twitter and the city’s exiled democracy activist Nathan Law said: “I don’t really drink, but I guess I am moved to buy a bottle of Australian wine”.

© Agence France-Presse

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