China’s imported wine growth in 2018 clipped by sharp Q4 decline

China’s annual imported wine growth recorded a decrease in value for the first time since 2015, adversely affected by a poor Q4 performance, leading to declines in import values from France, Australia, Italy and, worst of all, from Spain, as an economic slowdown grips the country.

According to a report by Chinese media WineIta, citing figures from the Chinese customs, the total import value including still wine, sparkling wine and bulk wine experienced an overall drop, though it did not disclose the exact value.

A clearer picture will emerge when figures from the China Association of Imports And Export Of Wine & Spirits (CAWS) are released later this month, the association head Wang Xuwei told dbHK, refusing to speculate at this stage.

Spanish wine imports saw the sharpest decline in value in 2018 of 20.13%, down from 2017’s US$193 million to US$154 million.

China’s biggest wine source, France, dropped 8.75% in value from US$1.1 billion to US$1.006 billion in 2018.

High-flying Australia did not escape the downward trend either, with its importing value arriving at US$702 million, a drop of 3.51%.

Italy’s wine imports declined 3.53% during the period to US$155 million.

Chile was the only country that has seen growth, with a moderate 4.5% jump to US$343 million, according to the customs data. Figures from other countries are not specified in the report.

These figures are a sharp contrast to earlier numbers. At least in the first half of 2018, both import value and volume had seen increases. The tepid performance, according to Wineita, was the result of lacklustre performance in Q4.

In first three quarters of the year, China’s top five importing sources except Spain all recorded positive growths, leading the Chinese media to speculate the data from last quarter must have experienced a “cliff-like vertical fall”.

This echos the newly released trade data in December on Monday where exports and imports figures from the country are “much worse than expected”, as SCMP posted, “underscoring the rapid weakening of Chinese economy,” largely affected by China-US trade war.

The slowdown suggests the adverse impacts of the trade war might be greater than the central government expected. Since the start of trade war, the Chinese yuan has also depreciated more than 10%.

The two countries have temporarily called a truce until deals are made. This week the prospects looked brighter when it’s reported China’s vice premier will be heading to Washington this month for further talks.

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