China’s Government has dramatically raised the stakes in its economic campaign against Australia, with multiple Chinese importers receiving verbal directives to stop shipments of Australian wine this week — dealing a blow to a market worth more than a billion dollars last year.
At least four wine importers have been advised by their local distributors to stop importing Australian wine, with Chinese Commerce officials in multiple cities arranging “off-the-record” meetings where phones were banned to relay the new directive.
Australian industry sources have told the ABC they have been warned by importers that shipments of Australian wine will not clear customs after Friday.several distributors also told the ABC that wine was not the only target, with shipments of Australian lobster, sugar, coal, timber, wool, barley and copper ore to also be unofficially suspended from November 6, dealing a potential five to six billion-dollar blow to Australia’s economy.
But Chinese authorities are rejecting claims of new directives, with representatives of major ports at Ningbo and Guangzhou telling the ABC they have not received any new notice of changes.
Officials at China’s Commerce Ministry have reportedly denied the existence of any new directives targeting Australia.
A Shanghai-based importer said the reported disruption to wine imports appeared to be a response to a recent increase in shipments of wine arriving from Australia, possibly ahead of the introduction of tariffs.
By China correspondent Bill Birtles