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China threatens to restrict EU wine imports

Published:  06 June, 2013

China has threatened to restrict wine imports from the European Union in a tit-for-tat dispute over tariff barriers.

China's Ministy of Commerce confirmed today (June 6) that it has launched an "anti-dumping and countervailing investigation" on imports of EU wines.

The move follows the Chinese government's anger at the European Commission's decision to impose anti-dumping tariffs on imports of solar panels from China.

In international trade, 'dumping' is where goods are exported at a price considered to be below their market value.

If China presses ahead with its investigation, European wine producers may, at the least, face extra bureaucratic hurdles in accessing the country's growing body of wine consumers. Wine producer nations outside of the EU, such as Australia, Chile or the US, could take advantage of the situation.

In 2012, Chinese government figures show the country imported 430 million litres of wine, with around two-thirds coming from the EU.

Wine consumption in China rose by 144% from 2007 to the end of 2011, according to figures released earlier this year by trade show Vinexpo and drinks industry research specialist the IWSR. However, per-capita consumption remains just 1.6 litres, significantly below the likes of US, UK and France.

Wine volume sales in China are expected to expand by another 40% over the next four years, partly as a result of strong growth in domestic production, said the Vinexpo/IWSR report.