Overseas companies who refuse to cooperate with local investigations into alleged dumping of steel and other products into the Australian market are set to face higher duties and have interim measures imposed on them sooner under a newly announced shake-up of anti-dumping rules.

Unveiling the latest round of measures, Industry Minister Ian McFarlane and Parliamentary Secretary Bob Baldwin said dumping – where exporters from overseas of products such as steel, timber, aluminium, glass and agricultural produce sell goods to Australia at a price which is below the normal domestic price of the goods in the country of export – was unfairly putting local Australian manufacturers at a disadvantage and that the reforms would bolster efforts to minimise these types of practices.

“The changes will ensure that while Australia becomes increasingly open to trade, Australian industry is not left vulnerable to dumping by foreign companies.” McFarlane said. “Australia supports free trade, but free trade should also be fair trade.”

Typically a result of overseas suppliers looking to offload surplus stock onto Australian and other export markets (but occasionally a result of a more deliberate effort to drive domestic producers out of business before reaping monopoly benefits), dumping is not technically illegal but is widely considered to be an unfair trading practice and local rules allow the Minister to impose duties on exporters who undertake such practices.

The impact of the practice can be significant: an anti-dumping claim by Arrium’s OneSteel subsidiary relating to reinforcing bar imported from Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey, for example, covered steel products which account for around 30 per cent of its annual sales.

Moreover, apart from immediate benefits in terms of lower prices in the short run than would otherwise be the case if the dumping did not occur, the practice is also considered to hurt upstream industries such as construction in the long run because of the impact on the sector’s local supply chain.

Under the new rules, overseas exporters whom the Minister considers not to have cooperated with local investigations will be subject to higher levels of duty being imposed against their products.

The government will also:

  • Create a new regulation designed to address emerging behaviours relating to overseas exporters slightly modifying their goods in order to circumvent anti-dumping duties that are currently in place
  • Overhaul the merit review system for anti-dumping complaints including, for example raising the legal threshold for applications and introduce a scaled fee for seeking approval
  • Beef up information and support services for local suppliers who are impacted by dumping
  • Amend anti-dumping legislation to simplify the system and reduce red tape.

Australian Industry Group chief executive officer Innes Willox welcomed the latest moves, saying the changes represent a comprehensive package of reforms which would go a long way toward the elimination of inappropriate behaviour by foreign competitors.

“Overall, the new measures, if properly implemented, offer a higher degree of support to Australian companies concerned about illegal dumping into domestic markets,” Willox said.

  • I would have thought it was a bit late. I didn't know we still had a steel industry left in Australia for them to protect. Wouldn't it now be better to avoid making the cost of materials artificially high so there is more money available for paying employees. The current low price of stainless steel (which hasn't been produced in Australia since the 90s) means we can now build lower maintenance structures and that means our industries are competitive.

    • Well, if you want the prices to go up, which means everything else too ! But why isn't the same tariffs applying to China ?? Surely of all the other countries make up only 30 %, the missing 70% of so-called 'dumping (I just call it exporting) thAt makes China the biggest 'dumper' of all !!

  • Not only should the government stop dumping of steel, they should be legislating that steel imported into this country complies with Australian Standards. It seems that people are being told that overseas grades are equivalent when they are not.

    • Dumping is a big problem at I think its been left too late to fix, some of the big EPC's have been taking advantage of this and purchase huge quantities direct from the mills at the dumped price for their Australia projects. There is one mega project in Sydney which is about to use 25,000 tonnes of imported steel (that's 1/2 the tonnage of the Sydney Harbour Bridge!!). Going local for that project would have kept many fabricators going.
      Another part of the problem is the Australia steel is too high in spec and because of that attracts a higher price. Rolls Royce spec when 90% of the market is only interested in what ever is fit for purpose. I can get away with grade 250 steel in my structures and we get a engineer to certify the design. BHP Steel (as it was called back then) should never had switched from grade 250 to 300 plus in the mid 1980's

  • The ALP government had no-one in cabinet with any business experience. The silly stoush over Whyalla illustrated the level of understanding in the ALP Federal government at the time.

    And taxing carbon (dioxide) here, simply made offshore production relatively cheaper. So we shipped ten times the raw material out instead of steel & the carbon dioxide emissions from tonnes of fuel oil burned on the high seas fell within no-one's jurisdiction. That's how dumb it was. Producing MORE carbon here means LESS carbon globally but the ALP and the Greens CONTINUE to quote per capita figures even though we are producing aluminium and alumina for WORLD MARKETS. PM Gillard was advised by treasury that the carbon tax would result in the Aluminium industry shrinking 50% yet inexplicably she went ahead with carbon tax anyway.

    Thank goodness these issues are now being taken seriously. This is our livelihood.

    Given our energy resources, value-adding to minerals should be core business for Australia.

    ANY education of the electorate is valuable. Keep up the good work.

  • All the labour policies over the last two terms were counter productive to manufacturing and employment in Australia. It is ironic that the previous Govt presided and dished out anti labour and employment policies just for selfish reasons to stay in power using Greens support.
    Now we have a Govt prepared to legislate policies good for Australia to create employment and make manufacturing feasible again to ride the next wave of infrastructure investment.

    The budget is immensely unpopular because it is aimed at getting the budget back under control for long term sustainability and good for us. If it were not good for Australia, why a liberal govt promotes policies which are unpopular? of course it is not to benefit the politicians or the vested interests. It is for long term sustainability.

    As engineers we must always be rational and give the credit where it is due and influence the ministers with hard facts supported by the majority of the membership to make the right decisions and policy settings which affects engineering profession and infrastructure investment for the good of Australia.

  • We are losing not only quality steel production and jobs, but the skills of specialist steel workers. These workers have great skills that are used not only for production, but repair. As a country we are losing the specialists that also know how to repair the products made from the steel. Australia then needs to purchase more steel to build new rather than repair to our historically high standards. This means also more cost, more down time for industry and lower business resilience and high business interruption risk, as time is needed to transport the parts compared to repairs.
    Engineers and government and development policy can get us back our world renowned reputation.

  • Good news and not too late to help bolster what is left of our steel industry by assuring a level playing field. Anti-dumping and engineers demanding and following through quality compliance.

  • Our steel industry is still here (although beaten up) Bluescope & Arrium (onesteel). It's only too late if people keep importing the inferrior products.

  • I wonder how many of your comments are from people who have ever been active in the design and construction of structural steel buildings and/or reinforced concrete buildings which is a major part but not the whole the steel industry. If we are to import all of our steel then as someone says above we will difficulty in insisting on Australian standards. As a retired structural designer, I have the impression that any savings in imported steel may simply reflect lower standards. Who would want to be in Sydney Tower in a major storm if it was built (it was not) out of inferior steel from who knows where. If you want to import high standard steel from major suppliers in Europe or the US then will there be any saving?

  • Way too late. We no longer have a an API 5L pipe manufacturer in Australia. For those who word processor engineer Pipe Specifications, be afraid, very afraid! I think we used to get linepipe that we wanted despite the specification. Now with O/S manufacture, look out. As the poster says "If you think hiring a professional is expensive, just wait until you hire an amateur"

  • This is very good news for local steel manufacturers. Now the government should assess the structural integrity of concrete reinforcement steel dumped in Australia. Over 40% of our business is repairing cracked concrete less the 12 months old where the builder has used imported reinforcement steel.

  • I'd suggest local procurement of our defence requirements i.e. submarines, vehicles and ships would be an excellent follow up (long with a little bit of planning to ensure continuity of work instead of the current peak and trough system which serves only to disrupt work and increase long term costs).

  • Andrew Milchem
    Web Developer
    Sourceable Inc.
    2 years, 9 months ago

    Stopping steel dumping is a good start.

    I'd suggest local procurement of our defence requirements i.e. submarines, vehicles and ships would be an excellent follow up (long with a little bit of planning to ensure continuity of work instead of the current peak and trough system which serves only to disrupt work and increase long term costs).

  • About time. they also need to deal with the quality issue. Particularly with structural steel and structiral steel products.

  • Great points from many different perspectives. I appreciate the conversation.
    Safety, compliance, standards, jobs and the benefits to the economy are all important for the Australian community. Something all of us engineers strive for.
    I hope that there are actions that can come from this discussion.

  • The importers have become smarter, they are outsourcing not the raw material anymore. They have begun to outsource semi finished products and assemble it here. eg. Adding a washer to a product, claiming assembled in Australia with local and outsourced products. Similar to the tactics used by the super market strategy. Where I would not know if it is the washer which is local or primary component which is local. We just have to wait and see till some disaster strikes.

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