The Cost of Trade | Chinese Wine Tariffs

It’s no surprise that the rest of the world has a bit of a hankering for Aussie wine - we make the stuff quite well if we do say so ourselves. Shiraz is, of course, one of our most loved wines on the international market but savvy global consumers are also warming to the idea that Aussie whites, including Chardonnay, Riesling and our outstanding Sparkling wines - especially those hailing from Tasmania, are worth a second look too. Consider - Australia ships around 60% of its entire production overseas…Or at least we used to. 

According to Wine Australia’s latest Export report by the end of 2021 exports had sunk by 30%. 

March 26th 2021 was a rough day for the Australian wine industry. Despite the Australian industry challenging the result at the World Trade Organisation, China, once our largest export market for fine wine, made the decision to impose tariffs on bottled Australian wine imports, reaching upwards of 200% for five years.

In 2020 exports to mainland China were valued at $1.1 Billion over a year and in the past financial year this has shifted to a marginal value of 24.6 million. This drop, coupled with logistic issues over supply, freight and labour shortages resulting from lockdowns and restrictions, will put pressure on the Australia Wine Industry and the price of grapes for several years to come. 

So, how do we, as Wine professionals and communicators, remedy this? What can we do to keep our industry thriving?

Well, it’s not all doom and gloom. The US now takes the lead for Australia's largest export market. Cabernet and Chardonnay, we know, are immensely popular in the States owing to the marvellous wines coming out of parts of California. Pinot Noir, too, is on the up & up. 

We think those Yanks, with a bit of a nudge, could go from casual sippers of Australian wine to full blown connoisseurs. With a focused plan to get more of the iconic brands into the U.S market, this relationship could really take out.

But here’s the most important thing - we need to support our domestic industries. Best way to do this? Drink local.  We will argue to the death that Australia makes some of the finest wines in the world. Sure, with all the exciting stuff coming out of the old world (France, Italian, Spain) it can be easy to overlook what is quite literally sitting on your doorstep. 

If you’re a Burgundy drinker most days, why not make the effort to give some Mornington Pinot Noir a try a couple times a week. Is it Bordeaux or bust for you? Get your head back into Coonawarra for a spell. And if you only drink Aussie? Well, keep at it. 

Our industry is a marvellous place, one that is changing with the winds everyday. We adapt, we stay strong. And we ain’t going down without a fight.