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Lawmakers line up worldwide to protest China’s Oz wine tax

Published:  02 December, 2020

A group of over 200 MPs and other legislators from 19 countries have launched a campaign against China’s swingeing new tariffs on Australian wine.

The #StandWithAustralia campaign began overnight with the release of a video from the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), which characterised China’s action as “authoritarian bullying” and “an attack on free countries everywhere”, the Guardian has reported.

IPAC describes itself as a "cross-party group of legislators working towards reform on how democratic countries approach China".

The video features lawmakers from the UK, US, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, among other countries, encouraging consumers to support Australia’s winemakers by buying their wines. Conservative MP Iain Duncan-Smith is the UK contributor.

The campaign has the support of former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, currently co-chair of the European council on foreign relations, who said China wanted to “weaponise trade in its political disputes” with Australia.

China imposed tariffs of between 107% and 212% on imports of Australian wines on Saturday as part of an anti-dumping crackdown.

David Littleproud, Australia’s minister for agriculture, said his government “categorically rejects” the accusation of dumping.

"Australian wine is hugely popular both in China and across the globe due to its high quality and we are confident that a full and thorough investigation will confirm this,” he added.

Treasury Wine Estates, one of the producers hardest hit by the tariffs, has outlined a range of measures to minimise the damage to its business.

TWE is planning to reallocate its Penfolds Bin and Icon range away from China and to other luxury growth markets across Asia, Europe and the US.

The company currently allocates some 25% of its global Penfolds release to China.

It also plans to reallocate some of its luxury grape sourcing to other premium Australian portfolio brands, including Wynns, Wolf Blass, Seppelt and Pepperjack.

Other plans include accelerating production growth in other countries of origin, including France and potentially China.

TWE, which has invested heavily in the Chinese market in recent years including establishing its own business hub, is also looking at alternate operating and supply chain models for its China business.

It has set out measures it will implement to reduce the impact of the tariffs on Australian wine announced by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) last week.

TWE's series of plans to reduce the impact of the provisional anti-dumping measure (Provisional Measure) on imports of certain categories of wine from Australia into China

Tim Ford, CEO of TWE, said: "We are extremely disappointed to find our business, our partners' businesses and the Australian wine industry in this position.

“We call for strong leadership from governments to find a pathway forward.

"There is no doubt this will have a significant impact on many across the industry, costing jobs and hurting regional communities and economies which are the lifeblood of the wine sector.

"We will continue to work with our valued partners to further understand the implications and how we can work with the industry, governments and others to support the sector.

"At the same time, we will continue to work with our customers and partners in China to demonstrate our long-term commitment to the growing number of Chinese consumers who enjoy our brands."