Hangover continues for Australian wine exporters as China extends tariffs for five years

Political tensions between China and Australia remain high.
Political tensions between China and Australia remain high.

Australian winemakers are feeling the pinch as tensions with China continue to simmer, after confirmation massive tariffs on wine exports will be extended.

After temporary duties were introduced last year, China has now confirmed Australian wine exports will face a five-year extension of taxes ranging from 116 percent to 218 percent.

The country's Ministry of Commerce says the duties are an anti-dumping measure, accusing Australia of "dumping" product in the country at prices below manufacturing costs in order to gain more market share.

But critics say China is using its economic might to bully smaller countries that speak out against it on issues such as human rights.

Political tensions between the two countries have been rising over the past year, after Australia called for an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19. 

Since then a number of Australian agricultural exports including coal, barley and lobster, have also been hit with tariffs.

Tony Battaglene, chief executive of Australian Grape & Wine Inc, told Bloomberg the industry group would most likely take the matter to the World Trade Organisation.

Last year politicians from 19 countries around the world - including New Zealand MP Louisa Wall - joined a call to drink Australian wine in order to send a message to the Chinese Government.

"China has cancelled a whole range of Australian imports in an attempt to bully us into abandoning our values," Australian senator Kimberley Kitching said in the video campaign promoting the global call. 

"One of the worst-affected industries is the Australian wine industry. This isn't just an attack on Australia, it's an attack on free countries everywhere." 

After reaching a high of AU$164 million last October, Australian wine exports to China fell to less than AU$1 million in January, according to 9 News.