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Uncertainty continues over Oz wine exports to China

Published:  10 November, 2020

Confusion continues over a potential block on Australian wine imports by China in response to ongoing tensions between Canberra and Beijing.

Last week reports emerged that wine imports into China, along with other key Australian exports such as coal, timber and seafood, would be impacted, with Chinese state-owned media and customs warning of restrictions being imposed on goods including wine, along with reports of blocked imports.

The lack of clarity, according to Tony Battaglene, chief executive of industry body Australian Grape & Wine, continues into this week, with no official ban in place, but with those in the wine import-export business sending out conflicting messages.

“There has been no official confirmation of a ban, although the [Chinese] state-run Global Times reported that it was in place,” Battaglene told Harpers.

“We have numerous reports of importers telling exporters not to ship product until the situation is clearer. Many exporters are choosing not to ship wine until we get some clarity of what will happen.”

Battaglene added that while there were no confirmed reports of products stopped at the border, and not all importers were telling their suppliers not to ship wine, Australian wine had been subject to “increased scrutiny in the last week”.

He said that “more would be known” over the next few days, as “there are shipments on the water”.

China has risen to be Australia’s number one export territory for wine, worth AUD$1.2bn annually, and disruption to this heavily export-reliant industry would come as a severe blow to producers already suffering from the financial effects of the pandemic.