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Australian wine exports to China rocket after Beijing drops tariffs

REUTERS
                                Patrons enjoy outdoor wine tasting against the backdrop of the vineyard at Ivanhoe Wines in the Hunter Valley region in the state of New South Wales, Australia, on Nov. 14, 2021.
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REUTERS

Patrons enjoy outdoor wine tasting against the backdrop of the vineyard at Ivanhoe Wines in the Hunter Valley region in the state of New South Wales, Australia, on Nov. 14, 2021.

CANBERRA >> Australian wine makers shipped wine worth A$86 million ($57 million) to China in the month after Beijing lifted tariffs and should be confident of bumper sales going forward, the trade minister said on Wednesday.

Australia exported wine worth $800 million to China in the year to November 2020, when Beijing blocked imports, collapsing the trade. China lifted its tariffs on March 29.

“I’m very optimistic that we can get a full recovery of the Australian wine market into China,” Trade Minister Don Farrell said.

“All the evidence so far is that there’s pent up demand for Australian wine into the Chinese market,” he said, standing in front of barrels at a winery in South Australia.

A sustained recovery to 2020 levels would be an incredible achievement as China’s imports and consumption of wine have fallen sharply in recent years.

But it would be a boon to an Australian industry dealing with huge oversupply.

Farrell said almost all the wine shipped to China in April was premium wine, a segment that has fared better than cheaper mass-market products.

The government also on Wednesday said it would spend A$3.5 million to support the wine industry, funding better supply and demand data for growers and marketing roles to boost sales in China, the United States and Japan.

The aim is to foster growth rather than compensate farmers for switching from grapes to other crops as some other countries have done, said Agriculture Minister Murray Watt.

China’s tariffs on wine were part of broader trade restrictions imposed on Australia after Canberra called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19. Almost all have been dropped, but barriers on lobster imports remain.

With Chinese Premier Li Qiang visiting Australia this weekend, Farrell said the lobster trade should be restored.

“There’s a willingness on our part and the part of the Chinese government to remove all the impediments in our relationship,” he said.

“I’d be very confident that the visit this week will result in a very successful outcome for lobster producers.”

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