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Fear of Chinese blockade speeds wine shipments from Bordeaux

A threat by the Chinese government to impose an anti-dumping tax on European wines appears to be speeding wine shipments out of Bordeaux this week, as importers rush to stockpile supplies.

‘Twelve to 15 containers a week…’

Benoit Malaggi, director of Humann and Taconet, Wine and Spirits Logistics told Decanter.com that requests from importers in China to send wine as fast as possible had doubled his normal shipment rates.

‘In the last 10 days we have gone from a normal five to six containers a week, up to 12 to 15 a week,’ said Malaggi.

‘Apparently there will be no tax applied on wine that is shipped before the tax is imposed, so they are asking us to get it shipped out as fast as possible.’

Malaggi said he understood from his clients that the new tax will likely be imposed in early August.

Speaking at the Vinexpo wine trade fair in Bordeaux this week José Luis Hermosa of IWSR research said press reports of the trade war are having an effect on the market, but that forecasting in China is notoriously difficult.

‘In the first three months of 2013, the Chinese customs figures remain healthy’, Hermosa said.

There has been growth of 21% in sparkling wine, led by Italian sparkling. In the same quarter, from January to March 2013, still wines grew at 31%, with France still leading the growth, but bulk wine was down by 22%. ‘For the second quarter, we may see the impact of the trade war, but it is hard to accurately assess the effect at this stage.’

Also balancing any negative effects of a trade war, the local authorities in Beijing, Shanghai and Canton are rolling out a simpler system for payments for imported products, which is expected to have a positive effect on the wine industry.

Last week a statement from one of China’s main wine merchants, ASC Fine Wines, said calls for an anti-dumping tax on European wines began in 2012, ‘when several Chinese winemakers and producers filed a petition to the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), complaining that imported European wines received unfair government subsidies and damaged the development of the domestic industry in China.’

Written by Jane Anson and Sophie Kevany in Bordeaux

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