SYDNEY (Reuters) -China’s review of tariffs on Australian wine is progressing well, Chinese Ambassador Xiao Qian said on Monday, but he stopped short of confirming an Australian government claim the dispute would be resolved this month.

“Currently, Chinese authorities are reviewing and investigating our tariffs on Australian wine and things are moving on the right track, in the right direction,” Xiao told the Australian Financial Review Business Summit.

A day earlier, Australia’s trade minister said China would complete its review into the years-long wine tariffs by the end of March.

Beijing rocked some of Australian biggest export industries from coal to lobsters by imposing a host of tariffs starting in 2020 amid souring relations between the countries over Australia’s call for an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors.

Australia responded by complaining to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) but said it would suspend its WTO disputes after China lifted the tariffs. The standoff over China’s tariffs of up to 218% on Australian wine remains unresolved.

Tim Ford, the CEO of Australia’s biggest wine producer, Treasury Wine Estates, told the business summit his company had diversified since the tariffs effectively wiped out its biggest market but it was ready to return to China.

“We’re ready to go, should it change,” he said.

“We’ve got clear customer relationships we’ve maintained. We’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing. It’ll be a fabulous opening up.”

Australia, the world’s fifth-largest exporter of wine, had more than 2 billion litres, or about two years’ worth of production, in storage in mid-2023, the most recent figures show, and some is spoiling as owners rush to dispose of it at any price.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye and Lewis Jackson; Editing by Kim Coghill and Jamie Freed)

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