Australia will drag China to the WTO over Beijing’s imposition of crippling tariffs on Australian wine exports, she said yesterday, in the latest sign of escalating tensions between the two countries .

The move to “stand up for Australian winegrowers” comes six months after Australia lodged a separate WTO protest against Australian barley tariffs and is in line with “government support for the trade-based trading system. rules, “he said in a statement.

However, he added that “Australia remains open to engage directly with China to resolve this issue.”

This is the latest incident in an escalation between Australia and its largest trading partner, and follows warnings from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison that his government is reacting forcefully to countries trying to use “economic coercion.” ” against her.

In November last year, China imposed tariffs of up to 218% on Australian wines, which it said were “dumping” into the Chinese market at subsidized prices.

The crackdown virtually shut down what had been Australia’s largest overseas wine market, with sales dropping from A $ 1.1 billion (US $ 822.9 million) to just A $ 20 million, according to official figures.

“The measures taken by the Chinese government have caused serious damage to the Australian wine industry,” Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Tehan said at a press conference announcing the decision to file a formal dispute with the WTO.

“We would like to be able to sit down and be able to resolve these differences” directly with the Chinese, he said.

However, official lower-level contacts had not progressed, he added.

“We will use all other mechanisms to try to resolve this dispute and other disputes that we have with the Chinese government,” he said.

Tehan said the dispute settlement process in the WTO was difficult and estimated that it would take two to four years to resolve the issue.

Beijing has imposed tough economic sanctions on a range of Australian products in recent months, ranging from high tariffs to disruptive practices across several agricultural sectors, coal, wine and tourism.

The measures are widely seen in Australia as punishment for pushing back Beijing’s operations to impose influence in Australia, rejecting Chinese investments in sensitive areas and publicly calling for an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yesterday’s decision came just a week after a G7 summit echoed Australia’s call for a stronger stance against China’s trade practices and its more assertive stance globally .

The G7 summit ended on Saturday last week with the announcement of US-led plans to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a mark of its efforts to expand its economic influence in the United States. world.

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