Australia is set to appeal to the independent world trade arbitrator to resolve a major dispute with China.

Winemakers and winegrowers say Beijing must be included in the World Trade Organization (WTO) after imposing crippling tariffs on Australian wine last year.

Tariffs of up to 220 percent were confirmed in March in response to allegations that Australia was subsidizing its wine growers and dumping its products in China.

Australia has firmly rejected any suggestion of anti-competitive behavior, and industry group Australian Grape and Wine now wants the federal government to refer the matter to the WTO.

“The industry as a whole supports action by the WTO,” said Director-General Tony Battaglene.

On Thursday, News Corp reported that Accolade Wines, responsible for the major Hardys and Grant Burge labels, did not support a WTO appeal for fear of retaliatory measures such as new tariffs.

Accolade Wines, in a statement to the CBA, would not be pulled by its stance on the appeal.

“We continue to support strong bilateral relations between Australia and major trading partners, as well as the industry association’s work in advocating for the entire grape and wine sector and its interests at home. and abroad, “said a spokesperson.

However, Mr Battaglene said Accolade Wines had reached consensus with the Australian Grape and Wine Board.

“We know that Accolade Wines is not opposed to WTO action if that is the path the government decides to take,” Battaglene said.

“They are not exerting any pressure on our organization, or even on the industry as a whole, or on the government so that it does not continue the action of the WTO if this is the decided way”, a- he declared.

Concerns about further disruption

A WTO appeal could take up to five years to be resolved and exporters, including those who still have access to China, have expressed concerns over a further disruption to Australian trade as a challenge was underway. Classes.

Mr Battaglene said the wine tariff dispute could be resolved sooner and he did not expect retaliation if Australia launched an appeal at the WTO.

“We don’t think this will lead to a further deterioration of the relationship – I think there are bigger issues at stake than wine exports,” he said.

Trade Minister Dan Tehan told the ABC the government is working closely with the wine industry to resolve the current dispute with China.

“I thank the wine industry for the constructive way in which it has cooperated with the government,” Tehan said in a statement.

In December, former trade minister Simon Birmingham referred China to the WTO over the removal of tariffs on Australian barley.

“They’ve gone down the route with barley before and I think it makes sense that they extend that to wine,” Mr. Battaglene said.

It is understood that the barley case is the first time Australia has referred China to the WTO over an agricultural product.


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