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China hikes duty on Australian wine for five years

China hikes duty on Australian wine for five years

A man compares two bottles of Australian wine at a supermarket in Hangzhou in east China's Zhejiang province on Nov 27, 2020. (Photo: Chinatopix via AP)

BEIJING: China said on Friday (Mar 26) it would hike duties on Australian wine imports for up to five years, as relations sour between Beijing and Canberra.

The levies range from 116.2 per cent to 218.4 per cent, China's commerce ministry said in a statement, adding they will take effect from Sunday.

It is the latest salvo in a series of economic sanctions or disruptions to Australian products - from barley to coal - to China's vast market.

READ: China tightens restrictions on Australian exports

Diplomatic relations with Canberra have reached their lowest since the deadly 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Many in Canberra see the actions as a Beijing punishment for Australia pushing back against China's influence by rejecting investment in sensitive areas and publicly calling for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus.

In December, Australia called for the World Trade Organization to investigate Chinese tariffs on barley imports, the first time it has taken legal action against Beijing at the WTO over what some have dubbed a "shadow trade war".

On Friday, China's commerce ministry said an investigation found there were "dumping and subsidies on imported wines" from Australia, adding that the Chinese domestic industry "suffered material damage".

READ: Commentary - Why China is turning sour on Australia wines

Wine exports to China hit a record A$1.3 billion (US$900 million) in 2019, according to Australian government data, making it the biggest market by value for the product.

China's wine industry has complained Australian wines benefit from government subsidies that give them an advantage over Chinese products, the commerce ministry said in August when it launched its probe.

Source: AFP/ac

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