Australia’s agriculture and trade ministers are set to meet with the nation’s peak wine body in a bid to lodge a defence against China’s trade intervention.
China says Australia is unfairly dumping wine into the market, slapping huge tariffs on the products that have shaken the local industry.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says the government will “vigorously defend” the industry, pointing out Australian wine is the second highest priced wine in China.
Along with Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, he will meet with head of Australian Grape and Wine Tony Battaglene on Wednesday to lodge an appeal with the World Trade Organisation.
The clock is ticking, with Mr Littleproud saying they have 10 days to do so.
The minister will continue working with industry to help find new markets for Australian wine.
Mr Littleproud said Australia followed the rules of international trade.
“We will stay within that,” he told parliament on Tuesday.
“We will continue to work with them (industry) and explore new markets as quickly as we can and making investments in accelerating the brand Australia wine right around the world.”
South Australian based MP Rebekha Sharkie – whose electorate covers key wine regions – is worried about the hit on local companies, urging the government to immediately support growers.
“We do need to back our industry internationally and appeal to the independent umpire at the WTO, but this is a long process,” she said.
“In the meantime the government needs to come up with a comprehensive plan that assists our growers immediately and supports them into the future.”
China is furious with Australia for demanding an investigation into the origins of coronavirus, speaking out about human rights abuses, and clamping down on foreign investment and interference.
It’s prompted hits on a wide range of Australian exports including coal, timber, grain and seafood with bans and tariffs.
Diplomatic tensions are at new lows in the aftermath of a Chinese official posting a doctored image purporting to show an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child, after a damning report alleged war crimes.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison demanded an apology over the image and has warned coalition colleagues against further amplifying the social media attack.
“Our work is focusing on establishing dialogue that allows us to steadily work through issues as governments,” he told colleagues.
China’s foreign ministry doubled down on the post and the nation’s embassy said the government’s response was an overreaction.
Labor has joined the government in condemning the image.