HON. WAYNE SWAN MP
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR LILLEY
CONSTITUENCY STATEMENT (ANTI-DUMPING)
FEDERATION CHAMBER, CANBERRA
TUESDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2016
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In the past decade, the issue of dumping in steel and aluminium markets, particularly by Chinese manufacturers, has had a profound effect on the Australian steel and aluminium industries, with thousands of workers losing their jobs. Dumping is a practice of exporting goods such as steel and aluminium at below market cost, often with the intention of weakening competitors. The Chinese government heavily subsidises their steel and aluminium industries. It allows them to export at prices well below what Australian producers can match in an open market. This has negative effects in both the short term and the long term. In the short term, the flooding of the market with below price goods cripples local industry, costing thousands of jobs. We have seen this in Australia in recent years. In the long term, once local manufacturers have been driven out of business by predatory prices, foreign producers often raise their prices, as they now enjoy a market monopoly, thereby removing any benefits to consumers.
Dumping is a global problem, and the OECD has increasingly been calling out Chinese market behaviour in steel and aluminium. This behaviour is a key reason behind the refusal of major trading countries like the US, Canada and the EU to recognise China as a market economy, which Australia has done since 2004. Since 2006, there have been significant job losses in Australian aluminium, with employment in the industry falling by 44 per cent, and significant job losses in the Australian steel industry, including the closure of some capacity at Port Kembla, putting thousands of Australians out of work.
I am proud of the role that the Gillard government played to support the steel industry in Wollongong and protect thousands of jobs. We have not seen that same support from the government. In government, Labor took a range of measures to try to combat dumping, including establishing a new appeals process for Australian businesses, independent of the government, and also to review more complex antidumping decisions made by the CEO of Customs. We also enlisted the Productivity Commission to strengthen and streamline Australia's antidumping system. This led to the establishment of the International Trade Remedies Forum, a body which the Abbott government sought to disband. Our reforms recognise that, when countries do not play by the international rules set out by bodies like the World Trade Organization and engage in market behaviour that damages their trading partners, strong action needs to be taken.
Despite these reforms under Labor, since 2013 it has become clear that much more needs to be done to stop dumping practices. The government has dragged its feet on this issue, while the Australian industry has suffered and jobs have been lost. The government needs to urgently take a range of measures, including ensuring that the Anti-Dumping Commission is well resourced, that the commission has the ability to impose interim duties when an investigation commences and that it has the authority to implement bans against companies that repeatedly circumvent Australian antidumping provisions. We cannot stand by and allow Australian steel and aluminium industries to be destroyed.