The Australian government on Saturday, has announced its decision to lodge a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), headed by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, over China’s imposition of crippling tariffs on Australian wine exports.
This was announced in a joint press release by the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan, and the Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud.
According to the press release, the decision to take the matter to the WTO is to stop the escalating trade standoff with Beijing.
“The government will continue to vigorously defend the interests of Australian wine makers using the established system in the WTO to resolve our differences,” the press release partly reads.
China in November slapped tariffs of up to 218 percent on Australian wines, which it said were being “dumped” into the Chinese market at subsidised prices.
China also imposed tough economic sanctions on a range of Australian products in recent months, ranging from high tariffs to disruptive practices across several agricultural sectors, coal, wine and tourism.
Many diplomats believe China’s decision is a direct retaliation of some activities of Australia.
The row between the two countries is believed to have started when Australia banned Huawei, a Chinese Technology company from its nascent 5G broadband networking in 2018. Also Australia had publicly called for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which was first reported in China last year.
However, Australia is now set to settle the trade dispute with China.
According to the Australian government, the decision to lodge a complaint with WTO is aimed at defending the Australia’s winemakers.
The Australian government in the press release added that the high tariffs imposed by China have caused serious harm to their wine industry, while also stating that “Australia remains open to engaging directly with China to resolve this issue”.
The crackdown virtually closed what had been Australia’s biggest overseas wine market, with sales falling from Aus$1.1 billion (US$ 840 million) to just Aus$20 million, according to official figures.