Australian table grape growers losing millions in potential extension of trade war - report
The Australian government is trying to understand why China has delayed table grape imports at a cost the industry estimates to be worth millions of dollars each week, the federal Trade Minister told ABC News.
The Trade Minister Dan Tehan is staying patient and was reported as saying he "won't jump to any conclusions" about the possibility that table grape trade to China will be the latest focus in the trade war with the country, according to the news source.
Over the past year, China has eliminated 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 ABC the government had asked Australian exporters to keep them informed about what they're hearing from Chinese customers.
"About 80 percent of table grape exports seem to have got in seamlessly," he told ABC. "It seems to be the last 20 percent where there are some issues."
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 as few as 125 containers per week have "landed" in China this year, according to ABC.
Mr Scott told ABC if delayed containers were not powered the temperature could cause the fruit to deteriorate and reduce its value.
"If the fruit has been off power, then they will not pay the premium they would normally pay," he was reported as saying.
China is the most lucrative market for Australian table grapes and accounts for more than 40 percent of all table grape exports.