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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: China Slaps Tariffs on Australian Wine

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Trade tensions between the United States and China will be among the many challenges facing the incoming administration of President-Elect Joe Biden. Other U.S. allies are also dealing with trade disputes with China. And this weekend marked a new round in a standoff with Australia.

Australian wine sold in China has just gone up in price by as much as 200%. Tariff increases went into effect over the weekend — the latest round of escalation in a confrontation that’s been developing for months.

On Friday, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced an investigation shows Australia is dumping wine in China — selling it below the cost of production. Australia’s Trade Minister called that allegation “unjustified, and without evidence to back it up.”

He also called it a “devastating blow to those businesses who trade with China in the wine industry.”

China is the biggest market in the world for Australian wine. According to the Australian government, China absorbs nearly 40% of all of wine exports from Australia — at an annual value of more than 800-million U.S. dollars.

And the trade disputes are not just about wine.

For months, dozens of ships carrying coal from Australia have been sitting off the Chinese coast — barred from entry.

Last week, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman blamed “environmental quality” problems with the coal — a charge disputed by Australian officials.

Other products have also been swept into the frayed political relations, which date back to Australia’s April backing of an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

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