China in rush for Aussie wine ahead of looming tariffs

Rebecca Le MayNews Corp Australia
Treasury Wine Estates is among Australian producers assisting with China’s twin investigations. Pictured is chief executive Tim Ford.
Camera IconTreasury Wine Estates is among Australian producers assisting with China’s twin investigations. Pictured is chief executive Tim Ford. Credit: News Corp Australia

Australia’s red wine exports to China have soared as the industry continues to fear Beijing will impose tariffs amid simmering trade tensions between the nations.

China began twin investigations into Australian wine imports in August — the same month it suspended barley imports from Perth-based CBH — and also raised tariffs on Australian beef in July.

While the wine investigations are expected to take some time — with companies including Treasury Wine Estates taking part in lengthy questionnaires as part of the probe — it was recently reported Chinese importers had urged Australian vineyards to get their shipments in quick before tariffs were imposed.

The latest preliminary data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released on Monday showed total exports in September rose by 3 per cent to $28.9 billion, with the increase partly driven by red wine sales to China jumping 150 per cent.

According to industry group Wine Australia, the value of Australian wine exports to China, including Hong Kong and Macau, reached a record $1.25b in the 12 months to September last year.

The ABS data also showed Australia’s total imports inched one per cent lower to $23.8b, so there was a goods trade surplus of $5.1b.

“The primary driver for the increase in exports of goods was an $876 million (69 per cent) increase in exports of non-monetary gold (excluding gold coin), predominantly to the United Kingdom and France,” ABS head of international statistics Branko Vitas said.

“While the United Kingdom is a global trading hub for gold and a regular export destination for Australian non-monetary gold, this is the first substantial export of non-monetary gold to France.”

Partially offsetting the increases were declines in exports of petroleum, down 16 per cent, and gas, down 7 per cent.

Notably, tobacco imports plunged 89 per cent, while car imports were 9 per cent higher.

Vehicle imports dropped in April and May as the COVID-19 pandemic intensified and remained low in June.

That sparked a boom in used car sales, and prices jumped as supply tightened.

According to the latest Datium Insights report on Monday, used vehicle supply was down 11.2 per cent last week while prices climbed 4.2 per cent.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails