Trade & Market Access – July 2021

Australia – UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations

On 22 and 23 April 2021 Minister Tehan met with United Kingdom (UK) Secretary of State, Truss and agreed to step up negotiations and hold weekly discussions, with a view to announcing an ‘in-principle agreement’ on these negotiations by the Prime Minsters at the June G7 Summit from 11-13 June 2021.

On 15 June, Australia and the UK announced that they had reached an in-principle agreement on the Free Trade Agreement.  The in-principle agreement outlines a set of core agreed areas that will be part of the final FTA text. The in-principle agreement is a high level agreement which did not outline specific text relevant to technical barriers to trade for wine. While the in-principle agreement did not include a finalised tariff schedule, the main outcome for wine was the acknowledgement in the announcements that wine tariffs for Australian wine exported to the UK will be zero on entry into force of the final FTA.

UK Global Tariff Schedule which can be accessed here, outlines the tariffs which currently apply to imported products into the UK. Below is a summary of the key tariffs which apply to Australian wine for reference.

Third country duty (£ per litre)
Alcohol strengthBottled wineBulk wine

Australian Grape & Wine will continue to engage with FTA negotiators to ensure the remaining technical issues we are seeking to address are part of the ongoing FTA and Wine Agreement negotiations. 

The in-principal agreement can be accessed here and Australian grape and wines media release welcoming the agreement can be found here

Australia – China World Trade Organization dispute settlement

On 19 June 2021, the Australian government announced it would initiate the dispute settlement process at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in response to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s decision to impose duties on Australian wine imports in March 2021.

The WTO dispute settlement process was one of the few remaining avenues for ongoing engagement on the duties which had been applied. We maintain that Australian producers have not dumped wine on the Chinese market, nor received trade-distorting subsidies and as such believe that the Australian Government’s decision to initiate this process is the right call for Australia’s grape and wine businesses.

The WTO process’ will now commence, providing opportunities for ongoing engagement between governments with a WTO panel proceeding over the case.

Our media release regarding the announcement can be found here.

GI and Trademark protection in China

Although the Chinse market is essentially closed to exports of Australian bottled wine for some time to come, we still need to ensure that we protect our brands, trademarks and Geographic Indications (GIs) in the market.

Australian Grape & Wine and Wine Australia have been working for some years to protect against the piracy of Australian GIs in China. This requires monitoring of trademark applications and then associated legal action to prevent registration. It is highly costly and intensive. As part of a pro-active approach to further mitigate against this risk we have progressed an application to register ‘Rutherglen’ as a protected Australian GI in China to pilot an approach that provides an additional layer of protection. While we recognise the importance of this work and would like to extend this to include all Australian GIs, to date State or the Australian governments we have engaged with have not agreed to fund this work. We believe it would cost around $10-15k per GI to register them in China, plus additional work in Australia to prepare the documentation and evidence. We will continue to seek government support for this work however we would also encourage any regional associations interested in process to contact us directly to discuss further.

With respect to company owned brands and trademarks that are currently protected in China, one risk to established brands in China relates to expiration of a trademark for ‘non-use’. If producers have an existing brand(s) trademarked in China, there is a risk that when the market is re-opens (assuming it has been more than three years), that the trademark of that brand will have been pirated. There are some issues Australian grape and wine businesses should consider with respect to their trademark protection:

  • The expiration period for “non-use” is defined as “three consecutive years of non-use” which would need to be defended against. You would not really even need to start evidence collection until year three. It would likely be worthwhile to start immediately, as each year in which we have any evidence of use resets the clock and sets off a new three-year period of non-use vulnerability.
  • You can arrange random sales of a few wines to China. That would likely be relatively simple to arrange via a local Chinese online wine shop (even if the tariffs make it unprofitable from a cost perspective for the time being).
  • You need to keep copies of evidence such as emails with Chinese contacts to demonstrate commercial dealings as that provides the evidentiary base of where the ‘non-use’period stated and ended.

For more of this type of guidance and support on the China market check out our new China Market Supports and Resources website page

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