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Australia takes wine dispute with China to WTO

The Australian government said on Saturday it was filing a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization over China’s imposition of anti-dumping duties on Australian wine exports, further deepening its trade standoff with Beijing.

“The government will continue to vigorously defend the interests of Australian wine growers by using the established WTO system to resolve our disputes,” Dan Tehan, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment, said in a joint press release. with Agriculture Minister David Littleproud. .

Relations with China, already difficult after Australia banned Huawei from its fledgling 5G broadband network in 2018, have deteriorated since Canberra called for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, first reported times in central China last year.

China, Australia’s largest trading partner, has responded by imposing tariffs on Australian commodities including wine and barley and limited imports of Australian beef, coal and grapes, measures described by the United States as “economic coercion”.

Last year, Australia made a formal appeal to the WTO to seek a review of China’s decision to impose high tariffs on imports of Australian barley.

Tariffs on wine have doubled or tripled its price and made the Chinese market unsustainable for exporters, the Australian government said earlier.

Australian winemakers shipped just A $ 12 million ($ 9 million) worth of wine to China in the four months of December to March, up from A $ 325 million (about $ 243 million) a year earlier. , according to industry figures, confirming that new high tariffs have all but disappeared. their largest export market.

Earlier in June, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on the WTO to redress the impasse between the two countries and days later he won the support of the Group of Seven countries for a stronger stance against the China’s growing impact on world trade.

On Saturday, the government said that despite the complaint, Canberra was ready to cooperate with Beijing.

“Australia remains open to engage directly with China to resolve this issue,” Tehan and Littleproud said in their statement.