Whilst embarking on a specialized delegation journey through China, a wine producer from Australia oozes the assurance that Chinese tariffs on Australian wine will find an imminent solution, either in the nearing future or over time, fueled by the joint optimism expressed by the business connoisseurs of both nations about prospective trade ventures.
The joint managing director from South Australia’s Bec Hardy Wines, Richard Dolan, arrived at the heart of the dragon, Beijing, accompanied by South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas. Dolan emphasized on the “exceptionally robust” cohesion that existed between the facets of Chinese and Australian commerce, stirring an atmosphere that could possibly melt the frost frozen onto tariff disputes.
Articulating a delightful anecdote Dolan remembers, “Being present in that room yesterday, witnessing a pair of fellow wine producers reunited in an embrace with a distributor unseen for the past two or three years was an emotional moment,” highlighting the existing strength of such relationships.
The tariffs imposed by China in 2020, amidst a storm of diplomatic disagreement, wreaked havoc among a variety of Australian exports directed towards the gargantuan economy, with wine standing as one of the primary victims. The year 2020 saw Australia shipping off wine products valuated at $1.2bn to China. However, since then, the value of these exports has reportedly plunged by a shocking 99 per cent.
Dolan, with confident hope, shares that the Chinese distributors are eager for the cessation of the currently harsh tariff regime. He asserts, “An unquenched thirst for premium Australian products, including wine, seafood, grains, meats and more from our aquaculture businesses, continues to dwell in Chinese hearts.”
Despite a slight slackening of both economies, the indomitable demand sustains, and the message carried forth by the distributors emphatically resonates with: ‘with bated breath, we wait for the stifling tariff situation to dissolve, and business operations to resume harmonically’.
Confidently predicting the plummeting of wine tariffs in the foreseeable future, he elaborates that the resolution is bound to prove a derivative of diplomatic dialogues. A layer of optimism blankets his conversation as he references the earlier reduction of the 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley by China, inferring that this could lead wine producers to anticipate a similar development.
The trade mission initiated by the Department of Trade and Investment in collaboration with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, commenced in Beijing on Sunday and lasts till Thursday.
This delegation is graced by the presence of leading figures from spheres of education, wine, agriculture, aquaculture, tourism and trade from the home state of Mr Dolan and Mr Malinauskas and extended its reach to Jinan, the capital of Shandong province, on Tuesday.
Mr Malinauskas, during his stay in Beijing, held discussions with the Chinese government representatives, featuring the Vice Minister for the Ministry of Commerce, Guo Tingting. The agenda of the conversation revolved around delving deeper into prospective trade and investment opportunities.
Furthermore, Mr Malinauskas and Flinders University’s vice-chancellor Colin Stirling interacted with Beijing-based Capital Normal University to discuss possibilities of collaborations and exchanges.
With anticipation towards an ease of restrictive tariffs, Mr Malinauskas carries forth the determination of the South Australians. He says, “Being in the company of CEOs of renowned enterprises and industry associations, we aim to vindicate our resolve. The stories of family businesses bearing the brunt of such tariffs need their voice to be amplified.”
With an observable relaxation of tariffs on barley enabling Chinese beer producers to benefit from the high-quality South Australian grain, hopes are now cast on similar outcomes for wine and seafood as well.
Looking ahead, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is set to visit China, with the mission of advocating for the further easing of China’s trade sanctions against Australia.