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Rekindle or Reinvent?

Culture Bound Decision Quality Model- Dr Renée Ralph | Part 1

by Josh Galvin, Pioneer Member, Operations & Events Coordinator, The Brilliant Foundation

📸 Food and Beverage ~ Josh Galvin

China’s decision to impose tariffs on Australian wine export not only has devastating effects on industry but also highlights the barrier an East-West relationship causes, making political and economic relations difficult at times. Mid 2020 saw China accuse Australia of pricing wine below fair market value, imposing temporary anti-dumping tariffs on Australian wine, pending investigation. The tariffs were further extended in early 2021 set to last for 5 years. The Australian economy is dependent on the Chinese market and is built on primary industry. Australia may need to deal with this dependency due to the unfolding global political tensions with the emerging Asian superpower.

Trade, culture, and globalisation are the heart of the food and beverage sector, and my involvement in the Western Australian sector is what sparked my interest in China’s coercive actions targeting the industry. I was keen to explore this further as it’s a multifaceted issue and extends far beyond what I experience and what I already know.

The Margaret River region has become a part of the West Australian Identity and produces 25% of Australia’s finest wines (Wine Australia, 2021). Having studied international relations, sustainable development, diplomacy, and conflict, I wondered, How can Australia improve the fragile Sino-Australia relationship, in a way that supports industry and allows for sustainable development?

📸 Aravina Estate Vineyard ~ Josh Galvin

To fully understand the somewhat controversial issue of Sino-Australia relations, and the complexities in relation to wine export, I took a trip to WA’s premier wine region, Margaret River. I also had the pleasure to interview The Brilliant Foundation's Co-Founder, Dr Renée Ralph, in relation to her work as an international communications strategist, and her Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) . Her expertise in cross cultural communications, particularly in Western Australian-Chinese business relationships solidified a direction for this exploration.

📸 Co Founder Dr Renée Ralph and Operations Coordinator Josh Galvin - The Brilliant Foundation

My four days in Margaret River saw me visit wineries across the region; speaking to sommeliers, wine makers and executives at various wineries. I was able to learn about the region’s history, as well as gain an insight on the effects of the anti-dumping tariffs. The most valuable engagements were at Vasse Felix, Goon Tycoons, and at Aravina Estate.

In 2015, the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (CHAFTA) was established to “enhance our competitive position in the Chinese market, boost economic growth and create jobs.” (DFAT, 2021). The agreement created significant opportunities for Australian industry in China, however, the approach partly ignored important Chinese principals and was established on flawed political ground.

Imposition of the 200% markup tariffs in 2020, saw the $1.1billion sector (since CHAFTA) drop to $20million, (Prestipino, 2021) having devastating impacts on the Australian wine industry. There was no evidence to suggest Australia was dumping its wine exports.