from smh.com.au

Wine exporters from across the region have raised a toast to the Chinese free trade deal which they hope will grow the Australian brand in the major market.

Shaw Vineyard Estate owner Graeme Shaw, of Murrumbateman, said the greatest benefit of the progressive elimination of trade tariffs would likely be promotional opportunities.

The free trade agreement, signed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday, was expected to remove the 14 per cent tariff on Australian bottled wine, and 20 per cent slug on bulk wine, across four years once in effect.

“That import tax reduction is certainly going to help us create a bit more interest,” Mr Shaw said.

“A big thing is awareness – we had about 15 mainland Chinese journalists here yesterday, they were going around the area.”

Mr Shaw said he travelled to China three or four times a year and the trends for the Australian exporting industry were now positive after having taken a hit due to the Chinese government’s austerity and anti-corruption measures which made wine less culturally acceptable about three years ago.

The company had exported 7000 cases in some years – it expected to deliver about 3000 this year.

Inland Trading Co director Marita Corra said the deal would help Australian wines gain more secure market access as they competed against domestically subsidised nations such as France.

“It will certainly put Australian wine on an equal playing field with the rest of the world – it will make it much easier,” she said.

Ms Corra said her husband and fellow director, Greg Corra, was heading to China next week and the FTA would be a part of his negotiations.

The company exports wines from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to the world, but China made up 35 per cent of its market.

The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia said the deal could add tens of millions of dollars to the Australian industry’s export earnings.

China was now the nation’s third-largest wine export market by value, worth $242 million in the year to March, a spokesman said.

Mr Shaw, who has been growing grapes since 1999, said the deal was more good news in an exceptional season.

“The fruit from this year is world class, by far the best vintage we’ve ever had,” he said.