Australia takes wine dispute with China to WTO as sales plunge

Australia takes wine dispute with China to WTO as sales plunge

The government announced on Saturday (June 19) that Australia had officially lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Beijing's tariffs on Australian wines. Further escalate the trade deadlock with Beijing.

The wine tariffs come after an extensive campaign by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to target key Australian exports, via tariffs or suspensions, after Foreign Minister Marise Payne called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in April 2020.

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China accuses Australia of a trade practice called dumping, which is illegal in worldwide trade law.

"A well-functioning WTO that sets clear rules arbitrates disputes objectively and efficiently and penalises bad behaviour when it occurs: this can be one of the most powerful tools the worldwide community has to counter economic coercion", he told the Perth USAsia Centre on June 8.

At the end of last year China introduced its tariffs on Australian wine and said they could stay in place for five years. The top commodities buyer said in March that Australian wine had been subsidized and sold under market value, a view that's been rejected by the Australian government. It proved that the high new tariffs have nearly wiped out their largest export market.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly said his government would not give in to economic coercion.

"What the Australian government would like is to be able to sit down and resolve this dispute directly with China - but if we can't, we are prepared to go through the process", he said.

It comes after the G7 summit, the seven most industrialized nations in Great Britain, where Australia demanded a firm position on China's trade practices.

The G7 summit ended on June 12 with the announcement of US-led plans to counter China's trillion-dollar "Belt and Road Initiative", the hallmark of its efforts to extend economic influence around the world. "Rebuilding a Better World" (B3W) project.

B3W is seen as a direct competition with China's efforts, which has been widely criticized for putting small countries on unmanageable debt.

"The most practical way to address economic coercion is the restoration of the global trading body's binding dispute-settlement system", he said in a speech just ahead of the summit.

"When there are no consequences for coercive behavior, there are few incentives for moderation", he said.

Morrison has received explicit support in his government's confrontation with China from the United States, as well as from French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to Paris after the G7 meeting.

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