Australian winemaker raises a glass to prospect of UK free commerce deal

One in all Australia’s largest wine exporters has stated free commerce settlement with the UK would cut back the price of higher high quality wine for British drinkers whereas serving to to fill the void left by a collapse in exports to China.

Australia’s wine business has been grappling with hefty tariffs of as much as 218 per cent imposed by Beijing final yr as diplomatic and financial tensions between the 2 international locations elevated.

Limestone Coast Vineyard, one of many 20 largest Australian wine exporters by worth, had its revenue margin “disappear in a single day” on condition that China accounted for about 50 per cent of income and most of its money movement.

“It was ‘Black Friday’ when the tariffs got here down,” stated Richie Vandenberg, chief govt of the South Australian producer. General, Australian wine exports to China sank 96 per cent yr on yr between December and March, in response to information from Wine Australia, a authorities physique.

However the prospect of a tariff-free, quota-free UK-Australia commerce deal has strengthened hopes that the UK will fill the void left by China.

Grapevines at a vineyard within the Yarra Valley, Victoria. Beijing’s introduction of tariffs final November induced Australian wine imports to plummet © James Bugg/Bloomberg

Wine is the biggest export from Australia into the UK, forward of lamb, however it’s topic to a tariff that provides roughly 10p to 12p per bottle of wine, in response to Wine Australia.

Limestone Coast Vineyard, which is behind The Hidden Sea label but additionally provides grocery store own-brand wines, stated this makes the nation “by far” the least worthwhile marketplace for its merchandise however tariff-free association would allow it to compete.

Justin Moran, a co-founder of the corporate, stated: “Chilean wine has a 13 per cent tariff benefit over us within the UK. If Australia can do a very good cope with the UK it might have an enormous profit to Australia wine and profit the UK shopper.”

A UK-Australia deal has been mired in controversy as farmers have warned that tariff-free beef and lamb imported from Down Underneath might have a devastating impact on farming within the UK. The Australian Agricultural Firm, the nation’s largest beef exporter, stated this week tariff-free deal might enhance its UK gross sales ten-fold.

chart showing steep decline in exports of Australian wine to mainland China

Vandenberg, talking from the Coonawarra area the place the group sources its fruit, argued that the UK and Australia are pure buying and selling companions. “I’ve empathy for Scottish farmers however it might be a disgrace if it stopped a free commerce deal between the UK and Australia,” he stated. “We’re an enormous commerce associate. The UK shopper will win out.”

Not all Australian wine growers are banking on the ‘previous world’ to offset the influence of the Chinese language tariffs. Accolade Wines, proprietor of the Hardys and Echo Falls manufacturers, stated it might ship wine from Chile and elsewhere to China to bypass the levy.

Australian wine exports to the UK grew by a 3rd to $461m between December and March, whereas the quantity shipped grew by a fifth to 264m litres. The typical worth acquired for Australian wine within the UK elevated 10 per cent to $1.75 per litre, the best degree in a decade.

Richie Vandenberg playing Australian Rules football in 2007Richie Vandenberg throughout his profession as an Australian Guidelines soccer participant © Quinn Rooney/Getty

Limestone Coast Vineyard, which has bought 100m litres of wine because it was based in 1998, hopes to make use of financial savings from the potential lifting of UK tariffs on selling The Hidden Sea model — that makes use of income to take away plastic from the Indonesian seas.

Moran accused some UK retailers and the federal government of “greenwashing” over single-use plastic given an enormous quantity of waste is shipped to Turkey and south-east Asia. “They’re absolute laggards however nonetheless bang their chest about plastic removing,” he stated.

Vandenberg is an icon of Australian Guidelines soccer who performed for the Hawthorn membership 20 years in the past and was a central determine within the notorious ‘line within the sand’ brawl.

“Individuals know me from AFL which is a tough, robust sport — however right here I’m pulling plastic out of the ocean,” he stated, including that folks don’t have to be diehard “greenies” to resolve points similar to plastic air pollution.

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