China’s wine imports in the first nine months of the year continued a worrying double-digit slide, but rush for importers to stockpile Australian wine before punitive tariffs hit resuscitated imports in September.
According to latest figures released by Chinese research company ASKCI, China’s wine imports from January to September suffered a 30.8% drop in volume compared with the same period last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic that forced many restaurants and hotels to close.
The slump is largely in line with our previous report with sommeliers and importers inside mainland China who expected a pre-covid return in last quarter of the year as decline softens towards September.
In value terms, the pandemic shaved off 29.6% year-on-year growth and punched down imports to US$1.84 billion.
In the month of September, import value only dropped by 1.4% compared with the same month last year, which could bode well for last quarter’s shopping season.
Industry insiders speculated the September performance is largely due to the fact that many importers are rushing to stock up Australian wines before China imposes punitive tariffs which could be as high as 200%.
The data released by the research institute did not specify country of origin, but figures from Australian Bureau of Statistics released on Monday this week seem to confirm China’s rush propped up exports.
It showed total exports in September rose by 3% to AU$28.9 billion, with the increase partly driven by red wine sales to China jumping 150%.
Previously it was rumoured that China might slap first round of punitive tariffs on Australian wine based on initial twin investigations into dumping and subsidy allegations as early as mid-October.
Though nothing has been announced yet this month, it’s expected that importers in China would continue to stock Australian wines for fear of imminent tariffs.