China to import more Australian wine thanks to trade deal

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Chinese wine drinkers can expect to have better access to Australian wines in the next few years after China agreed to abolish tariffs on imports as part of a trade deal.

Image: Eden Valley vines in Barossa Australia © Chris Mercer

China will scrap import tariffs on Australian wine within four years, according to the terms of a bilateral trade agreement announced by both countries this week.

Currently, Chinese customs places a 14% tariff on imports of Australian bottled wine and a 20% tariff on bulk wine.

Exports of Australian wine to China have weakened in the past couple of years, partially reflecting Chinese government austerity measures. But, Australia still sent 37m litres of wine to China in 2013, worth an estimated A$210m (CNY1.1bn) and many wineries continue to see the country as a promising emerging market.

‘Chinese consumers may see lower prices and an increase in the number of quality Australian wines appearing on the market,’ said Willa Yang, head of trade body Wine Australia in China.

‘[The deal] will likely attract wine importers who haven’t previously included Australian wines in their portfolio,’ she told DecanterChina.com.

There were already signs of this happening before the ink on the agreement had dried.

Australian winery Kilikanoon, which makes wines from vineyards in McLaren Vale, Barossa and Clare Valley, said this week it has signed a distribution deal with China's Joyvio.

‘Kilikanoon has been searching for an appropriate distribution and brand building partner in China for years,’ said Warrick Duthy, Kilikanoon managing director. He said he was impressed with Joyvio's commitment to building high quality brands and its respect for appellations on food and drink products.

Joyvio is the agriculture division of Chinese computer giant Lenovo. Its deal with Kilikanoon is part of new strategy to distribute wines from several countries and is more evidence of top Chinese companies operating in diverse sectors moving into the wine trade.

In August, McGuigan wines producer Australian Vintage signed a nationwide distribution deal with COFCO in China.

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