Steel industry association says fast-tracking of anti-dumping laws against Asian produced steel will assist steel the sector

18 March 2016

Federal Industry Minister Christopher Pyne says the dumping of cheap steel is distorting markets and making Australian steel uncompetitive.

It is believed companies are using loopholes in existing trade laws by adding minerals to their steel products.

Mr Pyne wants the Anti-Dumping Commission to provide him with "urgent advice" on the dumping of steel from Asian countries on the Australian market.

"If somebody is breaching the rules, and the Anti-Dumping Commissioner has decided this is the case with these two types of steel products, then we're perfectly within our rights to protect Australian business," he said.

The Anti-Dumping Commissioner has been investigating complaints by local producer Bluescope that their practices also mean companies from China, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia might have avoided paying millions of dollars in taxes.

Mr Pyne said the companies would be forced to pay the taxes retrospectively and duties would be charged on any similar imports in the future.

"That will cost these businesses several million dollars and of course they apply in Taiwan, China and Malaysia, so they are three Asian countries that we are very concerned to make sure that our businesses aren't injured by unfair competition," he said.

Industry fears it will collapse without reforms

The Australian steel sector has been hit hard with closures and job losses in recent years and is struggling to stay afloat.

In applauding the government's stance on advancing anti-dumping requirement, the Steel Association says it is not advocating for high tariffs to prevent cheap steel coming in.

CEO Tony Dixon said Australia had operated in a free market environment for decades with only minor or no tariffs on imported steels.

"It's important that Australia continues to operate this way, but it is necessary other countries meet their own obligations under international law," he said.

There is a global steel glut, much of it created by China, which produced massive amounts of the product in recent years.

The Chinese production meant it went into competition with other steel producers in Japan and Korea.

"It's clear strategic measures need to be made to rebalance the books that have been skewed by the dumping of artificially cheap products here," Mr Dixon said.

"And of course it assists companies like Bluescope Steel and Arrium, but a level playing field will assist other parts of the value-add chain.

"I can tell you the supply chain that works with them to support that market such as the fabricators, the galvanisers, the detailers, the erectors.

"They're all under-utilised, all suffering profit stress. We need to move and act quickly at both federal and state levels.

"These measures will strike a fair balance between ensuring Australia has a strong and robust system but it honours its international trade obligations."


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