Hope ‘goodwill’ will get Australian wine flowing

Australian wine exports worth $1 billion might be flowing back into China within weeks.

China slapped sanctions worth $20 billion on Australian products during the height of diplomatic tensions in 2020 after the former Morrison government called for an independent inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trade Minister Don Farrell met his Chinese counterpart Wang Wentao on the sidelines of the World Trade Organisation’s ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi and said he received confirmation the lifting of the ban was “on track” to be resolved by the end of March.

“I’m hopeful that the goodwill we’ve built up with my Chinese counterpart will result in a successful outcome with wine,” he told AAP.

“We always maintained that the tariffs should not have been introduced in the first place, they’re not justified and we want them now fully removed.”

Beijing is reviewing the trade ban on wine under a five-month process after Canberra agreed to suspend a dispute lodged with the WTO until March 31.

Sanctions worth $2 billion remain on wine, rock lobster and some abattoirs.

In a similar process, China lifted tariffs on barley in August last year after Labor paused a WTO dispute in exchange for a review.

Talks between Senator Farrell and Mr Wang were the first face-to-face meeting between the two governments since Australian writer Yang Hengjun was sentenced to a suspended death sentence.

Senator Farrell said he made it clear the government wanted Dr Yang to be released to Australia.

“We will continue to do that on each and every occasion that we meet our Chinese counterparts,” he said.

Dr Yang was found guilty of espionage charges in China in February after spending five years in prison.

He still faces the prospect of life behind bars at the end of a two-year suspended death sentence.

Senator Farrell has met his Chinese counterpart six times since May 2023.


Tess Ikonomou
(Australian Associated Press)


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