Why You Should Drink Australian Wine | Nathan Wilson

Australian Wine has in recent years struggled a lot. The breakdown of global supply chains and coronavirus has done lots of damage to various worldwide markets, wine is sadly no exception. However, one additional reason Australian Wine has struggled has been due to world of geopolitics.

One might begin to wonder why of all things has wine become politicised, well it is rather simple really. It has come under threat by excessive import tariffs being conducted on part by the Chinese Government. To understand why this has happened one must first understand the relationship that wine has between Australia and China. Sino-Australian relations until the last few years have been a great source of global business, with coal and agriculture making a substantial part of trade between the nations. For a Chinese perspective this has been great and in return China has invested massively into Australia, especially its universities (Future articles will explore this further).

However, this relationship has greatly broken down in the last few years, this has been due to multiple factors like Australia countering Chinese expansionism within the Asia-Pacific region and becoming a major player within ‘Quad’. The final nail in the coffin was when the Australian government requested an inquiry into the origins of the Coronavirus. As such, the Chinese government has brought in a series of tariffs towards various major Australian exports, which have included wine.

The Chinese tariffs have been part of a large and broader campaign to economically punish Australia over its deteriorating relationship and its inquiry into the origins of coronarius. While according to deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Some people in Australia adhering to the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice have repeatedly taken wrong words and deeds on issues concerning China’s core interests,”. Although, this allegation is very similar to other comments made by Chinese government towards legitimate concerns like the Brereton Report (an Australian Army report into alleged War Crimes that had been committed during the war in Afghanistan).

The results of these tariffs, “added wine to the growing list of Australian goods barred from its markets in a trade war against Australia over disputes including its support for an inquiry into the origin of the coronavirus”. This included the Chinese government’s Ministry of Commerce having “imposed import taxes of up to 212.1 percent, effective Saturday, which Australia’s trade minister said make Australian wine unsellable in China, his country’s biggest export market”. This all happened in November 2020 and have severely hurt the sector as a result.

The fallout of this resulted in a few different things happening, according to Australian Financial Review, “Australian wine exports have slumped to a five-year low because of the heavy tariffs imposed by the Chinese government”, alongside this “Wine Australia, the industry body that tracks official data, said on Tuesday that overall exports for the 12 months ended September 30 had dropped by 24 per cent to $2.27 billion, with sales to China tumbling by 77 per cent”.

However, what has been interesting is that according to Al Jazeera, the UK “has now surpassed China to become the top destination for higher-end Australian wine, according a report from Wine Australia. The value of exports to the country climbed 7% to A$460 million ($341 million) in the year ended Sept. 30, even as shipments by volume declined 2%”. In addition to this, it has showed that the “tariffs are having a massive impact, with the number of exporters shipping product to mainland China plunging in the period to 750 from 2,241 in the 12 months before”.

What is most notable is that despite the new tariffs imposed by the Chinese government, in Hong Kong shipments have continued “to make their way through to buyers in Hong Kong, where the value of wine exports surged 135% to hit A$207 million, according to the report”. I guess what I could be arguing is quite simple really, during times like these it maybe a true brit’s duty to help our friends down under, is to rethink our buying power over the alcohol industry. Much has been made around how the UK will handle itself post-Brexit, the trade deals it would sign and how it would act within the world, but not a lot has been made of the domestic attitudes of the population and how they would think towards these things. Weirdly enough, I think the UK could help in its own way.

Overall, in conclusion next time you are in the supermarket think about helping our friends down under, with what you buy, you would be amazed at what you can do.

Insert Lord Kitchener poster, the Anglosphere needs you meme.

Photo Credit.

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