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China lifts wine tariffs on Australia amid improving ties

March 28, 2024

China enforced heavy tariffs on Australian wine in 2020 due to political grievances, among them Australia's backing of a global inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

Wine bottles with grapes
Before the tariffs were introduced, the wine trade with China was worth €658 million euro, a year to the local economy in 2019Image: Oleksandr Latkun/Zoonar/picture alliance

Chinese-Australian trade ties seem to be improving after China announced on Thursday it would lift punitive tariffs on Australian wines. 

China's Commerce Ministry spokesperson He Yadong called the two countries "each other's important trade partners."

Before the tariffs were introduced, China was Australia's top wine export destination.

Ahead of the Chinese announcement, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he expected trade to resume soon and that he anticipated higher volumes of trade, as seen with other reintroduced products.

"China wants good high-quality wine and Australia produces it," Albanese said in a visit to a winery located in Australia's Hunter Valley wine region.

Why were the tariffs introduced?

Several trade barriers were implemented in 2020 after Australia participated in calls for an independent investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The previous Australian administration had also passed laws against foreign interference in domestic politics and blocked the Chinese-owned company Huawei from involvement in Australia's 5G network rollout due to security worries.

Australia's deepening security ties with the US also angered Beijing.

The tariffs are estimated to have cost Australia around 20 billion Australian dollars (€12 billion euros, $12.9 billion)

As ties improve, most of the trade barriers have been removed, and the decision to lift the wine tariffs will take effect on Friday, according to China's Ministry of Commerce. 

Australian grapes left to rot

as/kb (AP, AFP)