Australia taking China to WTO over wine duties

Australia is lodging a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization over China’s imposition of anti-dumping duties on Australian wine exports, the government announced Saturday.

The decision follows “extensive consultation with Australia’s winemakers”, it said in a statement, adding that “Australia remains open to engaging directly with China to resolve this issue.”

The move is the latest incident in an escalating trade and diplomatic stand-off between Australia and its largest trading partner, and follows warnings by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that his government will respond to countries trying to use “economic coercion” against it.

The action also came just days after a summit of the G7 grouping of advanced economies that echoed Australia’s call for a tougher stand against China’s trade practices and more assertive stance globally.

Morrison attended the summit as part of a G7 plus formula that also brought in the leaders of South Korea, South Africa and India.

Beijing has imposed tough economic sanctions on a range of Australian products in recent months, including tariffs or disruption across several agricultural sectors, coal, wine and tourism.

Many in Canberra believe the measures are punishment for pushing back against Beijing’s influence operations in Australia, rejecting Chinese investment in sensitive areas and publicly calling for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Australia has already taken Beijing to the WTO over its tariffs on Australian barley.

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