PM Scott Morrison says Australia will contest Chinese duties on wine, barley at WTO

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government will ask the World Trade Organization to resolve its wine-tariff trade dispute with China, Bloomberg reports.

“Barley producers in Australia, wine growers in Australia, have been targeted with trade sanctions that we believe are completely unconscionable,” Morrison said in a radio interview on Thursday.

“We are seeking to take those up to the World Trade Organization and see them resolved there.”

Australia has previously said it was considering taking the wine-tariff dispute with China to the WTO, and has already taken action at the global trade body over Beijing’s barley tariffs.

There was no immediate response to an e-mail to Morrison’s media team and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade seeking more information on the WTO action over wine.

Ties between Canberra and Beijing, which started to become strained in 2018, nosedived last year when Morrison’s government called for independent investigators to find out the origins of the coronavirus disease pandemic and also repeatedly criticized Chinese actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

That’s spilled into trade reprisals — the prime minister is this week heading to the Group of Seven meeting in the U.K. where he has said he will be seeking support from other global leaders to counter what he’s labeled as “economic coercion.”

China has imposed tariffs of more than 200 percent on Australian wine for five years since March, formalizing curbs that have been in place for months amid an increasingly fraught relationship with Canberra.

The top commodities buyer said that Australian wine had been subsidized and sold under market value, a view that’s been rejected by the Australian government.

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