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The government plans to make a formal protest against China

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 29/11/2020 Aidan Wondracz and Shive Prema For Daily Mail Australia
Scott Morrison, Xi Jinping are posing for a picture: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

Scott Morrison has thrown his support behind Australian wine producers after they were slapped with 212 per cent tariffs by China.

The prime minister said the government would help the industry through the difficult time as trade tensions with the country escalated on Saturday.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has accused Australia of selling wine at artificially low prices to stamp out competition and increase market share - a practice known as dumping.

The country has now implemented 'temporary anti-dumping measures' with tariffs ranging between 107.1 per cent and 212.1 per cent applying to Australian wine imports of two litre containers or less.  

The wine tariffs add to the growing list of sanctions imposed on Australian produce including barley, sugar, timber and coal - with some accusing China of punishing Australia for its demands for a coronavirus inquiry.

The federal government is now planning to make a formal protest to the World Trade Organisation, but Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has stopped short of calling the sanctions a form of 'economic coercion' by China. 

Scott Morrison wearing a suit and tie: Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) has thrown his support behind Australian wine producers after they were slapped with 212 per cent tariffs by China

Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) has thrown his support behind Australian wine producers after they were slapped with 212 per cent tariffs by China
© Provided by Daily Mail

Mr Morrison told ABC he remained determined to support the devastated industries, and wine producers, and intends to strike new trade deals with the United Kingdom and Europe.

'As a government we will be looking at how we can get a number of our producers through this difficult time,' he said.

'We have done that through COVID as people would know. The airlines basically shut down and the planes weren't there to (carry) things like crayfish and other things.'

Mr Birmingham said the government would be mounting its evidence before making a possible formal protest to the WTO. 

'If we stand by the rules based system, you should use that rules-based system, which includes calling out when you think the rules have been broken and calling in the international umpire to help resolve those disputes,' he said.

'That sounds like an argument for doing it.' 

The protest will likely be made over the barley tariffs and it has not yet been decided if the wine tariffs will be included.


Video: China announces tax for Australian winemakers (ABC NEWS)

Mr Birmingham appeared on ABC's 'Insiders' where he labelled the tariff a 'devastating blow' that was not in character with China's free trade agreement.

Though he dodged attempts by host David Speers to call it 'economic coercion'.

'Is your view now that this is economic coercion from China?' Mr Speers said.

Xi Jinping wearing a suit and tie sitting in a chair: The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has accused Australia of selling wine at artificially low prices to stamp out competition and increase market share - a practice known as dumping (pictured, Chinese president Xi Jinping) © Provided by Daily Mail The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has accused Australia of selling wine at artificially low prices to stamp out competition and increase market share - a practice known as dumping (pictured, Chinese president Xi Jinping) a man standing on top of a grass covered field: The wine tariffs add to the growing list of sanctions imposed on Australian produce including barley, sugar, timber and coal (pictured, a farmer stands in a barley field) © Provided by Daily Mail The wine tariffs add to the growing list of sanctions imposed on Australian produce including barley, sugar, timber and coal (pictured, a farmer stands in a barley field)

'Will you call it for what it is?'

'I think around the world people are posing that question,' Mr Birmingham replied.

The $6billion Australian wine industry exports about 39 per cent of all its products to China.

This makes China the biggest destination for Australia's wine exports and means the country spends approximately $1.16billion on Australian bottles annually. 

Rathbone Wines chairman Doug Rathbone said the move is 'obviously politically motivated' and part of China's ongoing diplomatic spat with Australia at the time.  

'It's pretty obvious it's political,' Mr Rathbone said, according to The Australian.

'It is a bit like the barley industry, which is in a position where there is no justification for the tariffs on any commercial basis.'

Sanctions were first introduced by China after Australia called for an investigation into the origins of Covid-19 in May.

a bottle of wine: Mr Morrison told ABC he remained determined to support the devastated industries, and wine producers, and intends to strike new trade deals with the United Kingdom and Europe © Provided by Daily Mail Mr Morrison told ABC he remained determined to support the devastated industries, and wine producers, and intends to strike new trade deals with the United Kingdom and Europe

China has also targeted the barley, lobster and coal industries. 

An Australian coal flotilla carrying $1.1billion in blacklisted cargo is currently trapped off the coast of China. 

Australian coal exports to China have dropped 96 per cent in the first three weeks of November as 82 ships laden with 8.8million tonnes of coal are left floating off Chinese ports. 

The number of stranded vessels has quadrupled in the past two weeks, prompting Morrison government officials to openly question whether China is deliberately discriminating against Australian exports.

Coal earns Australia more than $53billion each year and is the country's second biggest export after iron ore.

Last year, Australian miners shipped $10billion of metallurgic coal and $7billion of thermal coal to China.  

CHINA'S WINE INTERVENTION AGAINST AUSTRALIA 

 
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