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ELIMINATION of a 15 per cent import tariff into Japan on Australia’s wine during the next seven years as part of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership has been welcomed by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA).

“This agreement is a critical part of developing export opportunities for our Australian wine in Japan,” WFA president Tony D’Aloisio said.

The WFA met recently with minister for trade and investment Andrew Robb to discuss the ongoing need to improve market access for the wine industry, including completion of outstanding Free Trade Agreements in a number of key markets such as Japan and China.

“This announcement builds on the recent successful negotiation of an agreement with Korea and provides further momentum for a similar agreement with China,” D’Aloisio said.

“We welcome the government’s focus on the importance of these agreements to the Australian wine sector and we will continue to work with them to ensure industry interests are progressed.”

The Japan agreement will eliminate a 15 per cent tariff on bottled, sparkling and bulk wine, helping to lift Australia’s competitiveness in this key market.

It also puts Australia back on a level playing field with Chile, which entered into an economic partnership with Japan in 2007 that saw a gradual removal of tariffs on their wine.

“Australia is currently the sixth largest exporter of wine to Japan by value and volume,” D’Aloisio said.

“Countries such as Chile have enjoyed significant increases in market share in Japan following finalisation of a similar trading agreement where they now currently sit second behind France.”

D’Aloisio said traditional export markets such as the US and the UK were important for Australian exporters, but opening up new opportunities and improving Australia’s competitive edge in Japan, China, Korea and Thailand remained important for the industry’s future.

“The critical area we need help from the Australian Government on is in ensuring that when Australian wines enter new and developing markets and we take on our competitors from France, Spain, Chile and New Zealand, we are doing so on a level playing field,” he said.

“The agreement with Japan, and hopefully a similar agreement with China, aims to help us do just that.”

Local wine producer Ria Hammond of Oakway Estate said while the lifting of any export tariff was welcome, it would only affect large scale wineries that had the capacity to export.

“However, if these wineries export product then that may make some room in the domestic market for smaller producers,” Hammond said.

“In the end the Australian dollar exchange rate will dictate the degree to which other countries buy Australian wine.

“The higher the Australian dollar, the more expensive our products are overseas compared with other countries.”

Hammond said the big issue for smaller producers was the cost of selling wine to overseas countries and finding those markets.

Source: Donnybrook – Bridgetown Mail.

For the original article visit http://www.donnybrookmail.com.au/story/2230839/wa-winemakers-celebrate-end-to-japanese-tariff/?cs=1445