Australian wine exports to mainland China dropped to near zero in December as new tariffs cut off trade channels to the important East Asian market.
China implemented the tariffs on Australian wine in November
In November, Chinese authorities surprised Australia’s wine industry by slapping substantial trade tariffs on bottled wine imports from the country. The tariffs, which range from 107% to 212%, almost immediately priced Australian wine out of the market in China, according to analysts.
Today, new figures from Wine Australia show that in December the value of Australian wine exports to mainland China FOB (free on board) stood just above zero. For October, the value was close to AUD200m (US$152m). The near wipeout in December meant that for the 12 months of 2020, the value of Australian exports to mainland China fell by 14% to AUD1.01bn. Volumes plunged by 29% to 96m litres.
The declines stand in contrast to other important Australian wine markets such as the UK, where export value in 2020 climbed by 29% to AUD456m and volumes increased by 19% to 266m litres.
China remained the biggest value destination for Australian wine in 2020, but Wine Australia warned that exports to the country will remain low in the coming months, affecting total export numbers for 2021.
China overtook the US as the highest value export market for Australian wine in 2016, and has since become even more important after the signing of a free-trade agreement between the two countries that dropped tariffs to zero.
According to figures from Wine Australia released before the tariffs, China accounted for 42% of Australian wine exports by value and about 20% by volumes.
Australian Wine Exports 2020 – Top ten markets by value
|1||China (inc. HK and Macau)||1,150||-10%|
Source: Wine Australia
Australian Wine Exports 2020 – Top ten markets by volumes
|3||China (inc. HK and Macau)||11.6||-27%|
Source: Wine Australia
Australian wineries have intensified their focus on Chinese consumers, who are more willing to pay a premium price for Australian reds than consumers in other countries. Wineries including Treasury Wine Estates have directed much of their premium output to China, however this is likely to change this year as companies pivot to other markets.
TWE has said it is considering a number of ways to mitigate losses from the tariffs, including diverting resources to the US and UK. The group may also source grapes from China to use in local production, or use grapes from French vineyards.
China accounted for 30% of TWE’s profits in fiscal-2020.
Overall, the value of Australian wine exports in 2020 fell 1% because of the Chinese tariffs, according to today’s Wine Australia numbers. There was a 0.5% increase in volumes to 747m litres and a 1% decline in average price to AUD3.87 per litre FOB.