A CHINESE probe into imports of Australian wine could not have come at a worse time for Victoria, the national wine industry body says.
China announced an anti-dumping probe into imports of Australian wine, a move that will likely worsen tension between the trading partners.
National industry body Australian Grape and Wine chief executive Tony Battaglene said Victoria had already been through the wringer with the summer bushfire crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.
He said Victoria was a significant player among Australia's 2282 wine exporters to China, producing about 30 per cent of the produce.
"The Victorian industry has been struggling with the bushfires in the North East and particularly with COVID-19; people have been struggling for cash," he said.
"This is just another pressure people don't need.
"It feels like being stuck in a pinball machine where one of the flippers isn't working!"
Mr Battaglene said he expected the year-long investigation would reveal Australia had no case to answer.
"We will take this as it should be taken in the technical sense," Mr Battaglene said.
Mr Battaglene said China was an important market for Australian wine, which was in high demand from Chinese consumers.
"Australia has a large number of exporters with close cultural ties to China," he said.
"The Australian industry welcomes the opportunity to build on these ties and work with the Chinese industry and government to further technical cooperation and develop lasting relationships."
The Chinese investigation comes against a backdrop of increasing tension between Australia and China after Canberra called for an international inquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus.
Last year Australian wine exports to China were valued at $1.25 billion, more than one-third of the wine export market.
China is also Australia's largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth $235 billion last year.
Beijing recently imposed dumping tariffs on Australian barley, suspended some beef imports and told Chinese students and tourists it was not safe to travel to Australia.
This week Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Chinese authorities had also warned Australia they might launch a second investigation into whether the Australian wine exports were benefiting from government subsidies.
"This is a very disappointing and perplexing development," he said.
"Australian wine is highly sought after in China because of its quality."