Australia submits a formal complaint to WTO On Saturday, the federal government announced China’s imposition of anti-dumping duties on Australian wine exports.
The decision came after “extensive consultations with Australian winemakers,” the statement read, adding: “Australia remains open to dealing directly with China to solve this problem “.
The move is the latest incident in an escalating trade and diplomatic standoff between Australia and its largest trading partner, and follows warnings from Prime Minister Scott Morrison that his government will respond to countries trying to use “economic coercion” against it.
The action came just days after the G7 summit that repeated a call for Australia to take a tougher stance against China’s trade practices and take a tougher stance globally.
Morrison attended the summit as part of the G7-plus formula that also brought in the leaders of South Korea, South Africa and India.
Beijing has imposed tough economic sanctions on a range of Australian products in recent months, including tariffs or disruptions in many agricultural, coal, wine and tourism sectors.
Many in the coalition believe these measures are punishment for resisting Beijing’s influence in Australia, rejecting Chinese investment in sensitive areas, and publicly calling for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Australia had already taken Beijing to the WTO on tariffs on Australian barley.
Commerce Minister Dan Tehan said the decision was in line with the government’s previous use of the World Trade Organization and in line with Australia’s support for a rules-based trading system.
Tehan said last month that the government was considering whether to act on its complaint about China imposing heavy tariffs on wine, a move that effectively wiped out exports.
“We have always said that we will take a very principled approach when dealing with these trade disputes, and if we believe that our industry has been harmed or injured, we will take all necessary steps and measures to try to address that,” the ABC.
Asked whether Beijing’s possible response to such measures was part of the government’s considerations, Tehan said that China and all other countries are using the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism.
“This is a natural course of dealing with these differences,” he said.
“So what we want to do is make sure we have a very strong legal case so that we can take it to the WTO, because obviously if you take a case, you want to do your best to try and win it.”