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Brits slurp up Australian wine that didn’t go to China

China increased taxes by a massive 212% in November following a trade spat with Australia.

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Australian wine is flooding into Britain as winemakers down under try to overcome crippling taxes imposed by Beijing which led to a collapse in sales.

UK imports have surged almost 30% in the last year as Brits raise their glasses in a gesture of solidarity with their Australian cousins.

Australian wine producers have increased exports to Europe to a 10-year high, with the UK now the number one destination.

For the first nine months of last year, China was the biggest destination for Australian wine, accounting for around 40% of exports. Then Beijing increased taxes by a massive 212% in November following a trade row with Australia which has also affected other exports including barley, lobsters and coal.

Wine Australia, a government organisation set up to promote the wine industry, said UK demand increased at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and was boosted when Brexit finally happened.

The UK is now the biggest destination for Australian wine exports by volume, with Brits buying up 266 million litres in 2020.

“Due to the Covid lockdown they are not drinking wines in restaurants and cafes, but instead buying retail and drinking in front of the TV,” a Wine Australia spokesman told the BBC. “Australian wines have sold extremely well in UK retail for decades.”

China’s tensions with Australia started out as a political spat that spilled over into trade as officials in Beijing argued that some Australian wine is being sold more cheaply there than in its home market through the use of subsidies.

“The Australian government categorically rejects any allegation that our wine producers are dumping product into China,” Australia’s agriculture minister David Littleproud said in November. “Australian wine is hugely popular both in China and across the globe due to its high quality.”

In another boost for Australia, wine merchants in the UK are warning that drinkers could pay more per bottle for many European wines while choosing from a reduced range as the burden of post-Brexit paperwork and EU regulations takes effect.

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