Australian table grapes are troubled by delays in clearing Chinese ports. Growers and industry executives see this as another sign of worsening trade ties between the two countries. Relations worsened last year after Canberra accused China of meddling in domestic affairs. They cooled even more when Australian PM Scott Morrison sought an independent inquiry over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Experts suspect that as a result, China moved to limit imports of Canberra products, and Australian grapes might be the latest victim of this stance.
“For the last three weeks, table grapes have been experiencing lengthy delays at port. There are about 400 or 500 containers that are taking between five and 10 days longer than normal to be cleared,” Jeff Scott, chief executive officer at the industry body, The Australian Table Grape Association. Last year Australia exported 152,000 tons of table grapes, worth A$622 million (US$480.8 million). China was the largest buyer of those exports, purchasing about 60,000 tons.