China wine dispute may be resolved in weeks, Australian trade minister says

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By Alasdair Pal

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A trade dispute with China over tariffs on Australian wine may be resolved “in a few weeks’ time”, Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell said on Tuesday, removing one of the final obstacles curbing its exports to China.

Australian wine exports to China were worth about $800 million in the year to November 2020. However, that month Beijing responded to a call in Canberra for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 by blocking imports of Australian commodities such as barley, wine and coal.

China has been lifting those trade barriers as relations improve and Australian officials and industry expect a review of the wine tariffs begun by Beijing last year will lead to their removal next month.

Farrell said he had spoken with China Commerce Minster Wang Wentao on Monday, and the two sides were close to an agreement.

“I’m confident that the discussions I had yesterday with the commerce minister will result in them carrying through on what they undertook, which was to expedite the review of the tariffs and that we will get a result on that in a few weeks’ time,” he said in an interview with state broadcaster ABC on Tuesday.

Australia’s government said in December it was confident the tariffs would be lifted in early 2024.

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal in Sydney; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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