Evans, China, AWIC & year of the monkey

Ex CEO of Wine Australia Paul Evans did not move to Melbourne to take up a job with Treasury Wine Estates as I wickedly and wildly speculated. He is now Vice President – Government, Community and Sustainability at Orica. No doubt a good career move up the greasy pole but it’s also a move to the dark side, Orica not noted for their care of the environment.

The second Australia Week in China (AWIC) is taking place now, April 11-15, 2016. Wine Australia is involved, as are many high-profile politicians, including:

  • Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
  • Special Envoy for Trade Andrew Robb
  • Trade Minister Steven Ciobo
  • Assistant Trade Minister & Minister for Tourism and International Education Richard Colbeck

AWIC involves 1000-plus individuals from 750 businesses. Sector-specific programs will be held in various cities, including Hong Kong, Beijing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shenyang, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Free trade is a two-way street. The Hong Kong-based Fullshare Holdings (controlling shareholder Mr Ji Changqun) has acquired the 17.4-hectare Red Hill Estate on the Mornington Peninsula for about $5 million. The group also owns Mirage Whitsundays and various other property and tourism ventures in Australia.

The Chinese billionaire club is also into buying Bordeaux properties. Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, is said to be the richest man in China. He recently paid more than $22 million for Château de Sours, in Entre-Deux-Mers.

He also arrived in the region with several mates, with the reported intention of buying 20 châteaux this year, increasing to a total of 30 next year. It’s estimated that about 130 Bordeaux châteaux are owned by Chinese. These buyers normally have distribution in place back in China, or retail space. Ma plans to sell his and other wines online.

One can’t but wonder if a group of Chinese decided an Australian region, say the Yarra Valley, was the place to be, what that would do for that region’s sales in China.

The main article this week is a review of a report released by the Curtin Economics Centre at Curtin University, Western Australia. WA Wine Exports: Building an economic future with China is a chunky affair, at 112 pages, and contains a lot of good information that could be of help to any winery in any part of the country that is looking to export to China.

What stands out for me is the attitude of the people that the report’s authors interviewed. It appears many WA wineries think they are a special case and need more help than other small wineries elsewhere in the country.

Every region, and every winery within a region, has issues pertinent to its size, location, style and quality of wine produced. The West Australians are not special, but some think they are.

Let’s toast the year of the monkey, with the Chinese greeting, health and happiness of the monkey.


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