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Table grape exports to China in crisis
The federal Trade Minister says the government is trying to understand why China has
delayed importing table grapes at a cost the Australian industry estimates to be worth
millions of dollars a week.
Dan Tehan says he “won’t jump to any conclusions” about the possibility that the $300
million a year table grape trade to China is the latest casualty in the trade war with the
According to the ABC, in the past year China has wiped billions of dollars of Australian
exports including barley, red wine, meat, seafood, timber, cotton and coal.
Now, Australian growers say containers of fresh table grapes that would normally clear
China’s customs authorities in one or two days have been delayed by up to 20 days,
sometimes without refrigeration.
Mr Tehan told the ABC the government had asked Australian exporters to keep him
informed about what they’re hearing from Chinese customers.
“About 80 per cent of table grape exports seem to have got in seamlessly,” he said.
“We’re trying to work out what is the cause of the hold-up”.
The Australian Table Grape Association (ATGA) estimates the delays, which began six
weeks ago, could cost growers and exporters up to $40,000 per container.
Typically during the April and May peak Australia would send as many as 300
containers of table grapes a week to China, but the ABC understands as few as 125
containers per week have “landed” in China this year.
“The whole industry is very concerned because the delays are causing huge losses to
table grape growers and exporters,” ATGA chief executive Jeff Scott said
China is the most lucrative market for Australian table grapes and accounts for more
than 40 per cent of all table grape exports.
While the government seeks answers on the grape delays, it is considering launching
an appeal to the World Trade Organization over the disruption to Australia’s wine
Adelaide, South Australia