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AUSTRALIA will defend the interests of Australian wine makers by taking action in the World Trade Organization over China’s imposition of anti-dumping duties on Australian wine.

There are more than 2300 wine producers in Australia and the sector supports more than 163,000 jobs across grape growing, wine manufacturing and wine tourism. Australian wine exports were worth $2.9bn in 2020.

The decision to commence the dispute resolution process was taken following extensive consultation with Australia’s wine makers.

The WTO dispute resolution process is available to any WTO member as a means to resolve trade disputes in a respectful manner.

Australia’s use of the WTO in this matter is consistent with its previous use of the WTO and aligns with our support for the rules-based trading system.

Trade minister Dan Tehan’s office issued a statement which read, “Australia remains open to engaging directly with China to resolve this issue.

Meanwhile, the government’s efforts to assist wine makers in reaching new international markets appear to be bearing fruit.

Mr Tehan’s office said Australian winemakers are reaching new customers by embracing innovative approaches to marketing and distribution, including virtual wine tastings, partnering with celebrity spokespeople and working with sommelier groups in overseas markets.

Mr Tehan said wine sales to non-traditional markets had increased in the March quarter.

“Sales to the Netherlands were up 63% to $20m and sales to South Korea were up 133.6% to $13.6m,” he said.

“Australia’s world-leading winemakers are adapting to challenging trading conditions and it’s positive that our winemakers are diversifying their customer base.

“Our government’s $72 million Agri-Business Expansion Initiative is supporting winemakers to expand their international markets, access market intelligence and matched grants for government and industry associations to work together on market expansion.

“While tariffs on Australian wine exports into the United Kingdom will be eliminated immediately under the Free Trade Agreement making Australian wines more attractive and competitive.”

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Moorilla Winery in Tasmania participated in a virtual wine tasting event organised by Austrade’s office in Taipei along with five other wineries.

Moorilla chief winemaker Conor Van Der Reest said the winery sent its first shipment to Taiwan in February, with another shipment in the order stage and another party seeking samples.

“The Taiwan event has been very good for us. We have sent our first order, another one is in the order stage and another party seeking samples,” Mr Van Der Reest said.

“We would like to thank Austrade for all for your help and support. It’s been a fantastic reception for our brands and I think Tasmania in general.”

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