Despite looming higher tariffs, U.S. wine exports to China increased 14 percent in value for the first half of this year, compared with that pace last year, according to a San Francisco-based industry advocacy group Wednesday.
Exports to that large Far East market were $38.4 million January through June, according to the Wine Institute. That's a fraction of the $708 million in U.S. wine shipped worldwide during that period, but growth in the emerging market was stronger than the 2.7 percent rise in global value for the period.
But export volume to China was slower in the first half, up 1.04 percent, totaling 804,551 9-liter standard cases. Worldwide volume during that time was up 1.7 percent, to 21.3 million 9-liter standard cases.
Total U.S. wine exports to China for all of last year were $78.7 million, down 3.45 percent from 2016, and amounted to 1.65 million cases, off by 4.51 percent. China, including Hong Kong, was the third-largest market for U.S. wine exports last year by value and volume, after the European Union and Canada.
“While increased tariffs are challenging, Chinese consumers are clearly attracted to California wines and appreciate the high quality and great diversity of wines from the Golden State,” said Linsey Gallagher, vice president of international marketing, in a statement.
China and the U.S. have been turning up the heat on their trade relationship, the institute noted. China threatened to impose an additional 25 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. wine exports on Aug. 3 in response to a U.S. proposal to increase tariffs on imports of Chinese goods related to intellectual property.
The proposed tariff on bottled wine would be added to the 15 percent retaliatory tariff for U.S. government actions on Chinese steel and aluminum imports enacted in April.
Bulk-wine imports would face an additional 10 percent tariff. The retaliatory tariffs could go into effect if the U.S. places additional tariffs on Chinese goods entering the U.S. market.
About 90 percent of U.S. exports to China come from California, according to the organization.
The group touted its California Wine Export Program activities in China:
* California Wines educational master classes in several second- and third-tier markets.
* Greater China Vintner Tour in October, with stops in Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu, Wuhan, Taipei and Tokyo.
* A "strong presence" at the ProWine China trade show in Shanghai Nov. 13-15 and at the Tang Jia Hui Trade Show in Chengdu early next year, March 26-28.