David Harris, owner of Riverland Vintners, said he was “flabbergasted” when a Chinese customer phoned to tell him his company was on the list of Australian wineries being investigated for dumping wine in China.
“I think this is a blip and with better communication we can sort it out,” David told ABC Adelaide this morning.
“Someone, somewhere, will contact us and we will go back through all our records and transactions and describe to them what our production economics are, and how we operate and what we do.
“And I think it will be sorted out.
“I think that will happen across the ten or so companies that have been named.
“I can’t wait to sit down with whoever wants to investigate how we operate, demonstrate that, mostly, we sell to Chinese companies that are adding value to the wine and doing quite well out of us.”
China’s Commerce Ministry says the anti-dumping investigation follows calls from the China Alcoholic Drinks Association on behalf of the domestic industry.
The CADA has asked the regulator to look into 10 Australian wine producers including TWE, Yalumba, Casella, Accolade Wines and Riverland Vintners.
David said Riverland Vintners, which makes wine for a lot of Chinese customers who export it to China under various brands, does not dump its wine in China.
“We spend every waking hour trying to add value to vine,” he told the ABC.
“Australia is by far the most expensive wine exporter into China.
“They’re much more concerned with quality than the Europeans who buy on price.”
However, he acknowledges a lot of cheap wine went to China during the oversupply about 10 years ago.
“The success of imported wine into China has had a very deleterious effect on the local industry,” he said.
“When they joined the World Trade Organisation, imports into China from Australia were $10-$15 million.
“Fourteen years later it’s $1.1 billion. That’s displaced a lot of wine that was grown in China.
“Those people are obviously pretty upset by that just in the same way that Chinese manufacturing has come in and taken a lot of jobs in this country, so those people have gone to the government and said ‘this is terrible’.
“And the lead country in that, the most successful country in the world for exporting wine into China, is undoubtedly Australia.
“You know, ‘they must be dumping it’. And of course the government says ‘well, ok, let’s have a look at that’.”
David said the investigation was part of the “normal argy-bargy” of doing business in China.
“I don’t think the Chinese Government would be silly enough to wreck its wine trade in China because someone said something about the coronavirus.”
Related article: China Launches Probe Into Australian Wine.