(Yicai Global) June 7 -- China's foreign ministry has questioned reports that customs authorities are holding up imports of wine from Australia, with which the country shares a free-trade partnership.
"I don't know whether that is the case or speculation on the Australian side," ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a regular press conference in Beijing, denying any knowledge of customs hold-ups.
Australia's red wine producers are urging the country's leaders, especially Prime Minister Turnbull, to visit China to address the delays affecting deliveries.
China and Australia entered into a bilateral free-trade agreement in late 2015. Service and good exports to China represent nearly one-third of Australia's total. Australian wine exports to China rose by half annually in the period March 2017 to March 2018, creating the sector's first USD1 billion export market.
The two countries' customs houses have established an effective communication mechanism helping them to quickly deal with various problems related to trade, Hua added. Customs houses worldwide are empowered to carry out spot-checks on products, as part of normal duties and law enforcement to protect consumers' rights and interests.
With regards to a potential official visit from Australian representatives, Hua said that China always attaches great significance to exchanges with other countries as part of efforts to further mutual confidence and cement cooperative ties.
Hua said no communication had been received from the Australia side as of yet, adding that any agreements on mutual visits require communication and coordination between both sides.
Editor: William Clegg