Australia will continue pursuing a case at the World Trade Organization against China’s tariffs on wine imports, rejecting a proposal to tie the issue to a separate dispute on steel products.
China’s Commerce Ministry said Thursday the nations should seek a “package solution” to address Australia’s complaint about wine levies and Beijing’s disagreement over Canberra’s anti-dumping action on wind towers, railway wheels and stainless steel sinks.
“We see these as entirely separate matters,” Agriculture Minister Murray Watt told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television Sunday. “We will continue our WTO case when it comes to wine, and we will continue to defend the case when it comes to steel — but we hope that all these things can be resolved by dialogue.”
After removing levies on Australian barley last month, China has signaled a willingness to discuss other issues, including wine.
The nations should “promote a package solution to the wine case and China’s lawsuit against Australia for anti-dumping and countervailing measures on three products,” China’s Commerce Ministry spokesman He Yadong said Thursday at a briefing. “China is also open to continuing to resolve the above-mentioned issues through multilateral channels.”
China’s decision to impose wine tariffs in 2020, as relations between the nations deteriorated, decimated what was once Australia’s most lucrative export market for the product. Australia’s wine industry is currently facing a major glut, with supply in storage equivalent to about 2.8 billion bottles, according to Rabobank analyst Pia Piggott.
“We have been able to stabilize our relationship with China and that is paying dividends for our farmers in areas like barley, horticulture, cotton and others,” Watt told the ABC. “Wine remains an issue that we want to see resolved.”