As the World Trade Organization (WTO) prepares to release its ruling on the China-Australia wine tariff issue, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday that he remains “very hopeful of a breakthrough”.
His comments are made just as WTO is expected to release its final ruling on the wine dispute that was first lodged by Australia in 2021.
Albanese is also anticipated to visit China this year, the first by an Australian leader since 2016, underlines the efforts to rebuild relations following the 2020 trade halt on various Australian exports to China.
Before China officically slapped up to 218.2% punitive tariffs on Australian wine in March 2021, China was Australia’s biggest wine export market with trade exceeding AU$1.2 billion a year. In the year leading up to June this year, the exports had plunged to AU$8.1 million (US$5.2 million).
Australia responded by formally lodging a complaint with WTO in June 2021 and the final ruling is expected to be delivered soon though no exact date was announced.
Relations between the two countries worsened during the pandemic, resulting in trade freeze from coal to steel, lobster and bottled wine.
However tensions started to ease after Albanese was elected Prime Minister, with industry insiders now predicting that the tarifffs to be lifted before Chinese New Year in February 2024 after Albanese’s visit.
But the prospect of the talks between the two countries face its fair of uncertainties. Earlier as we have reported Australia rejected a “package solution” proposed by China to address both the wine levies and Canberra’s anti-dumping action on wind towers, railway wheels, and stainless steel sinks.