Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Dumping". If it was up to me I'd let the stuff in.

But Australian producers don't like ultra-cheap imports, so even the Productivity Commission found in favour of anti-dumping rules concluding that:

"...the ability for Australian industries, like those in most other countries, to use the [anti-dumping] system to address what are perceived by many to be ‘unfair’ trading practices, may have lessened resistance to more significant tariff reforms."

It called this the "political economy" argument for keeping our anti-dumping rules, but recommended they be relaxed by the inclusion of a public interest test and any penalties be time limited.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson yesterday rejected those recommendations, as a way of holding the line against suggestions raised in a Senate inquiry that were verging on the ridiculous:

Small business will get access to a dedicated support officer to help in anti-dumping investigations as part of a package designed to better administer Australia’s anti-dumping laws without changing the rules.

Trade minister Craig Emerson has resisted pressure from Coalition, government and independent Senators for tougher rules - including a reversal of the onus of proof - while rejecting Productivity Commission recommendations that would weaken anti-dumping penalties.

The Productivity Commission wanted to limit anti-dumping measures to eight years and impose a new “bounded public interest” test that would knock out more claims.

A Senate report released late yesterday broadly supported the existing rules but had the unusual distinction of being accompanied by three dissenting reports in which Coalition senators Alan Eggleston and David Bushby commended reversing the onus of proof, independent senator Nick Xenophon supported the idea, and Labor senators Doug Cameron and Louise Pratt commended a “workable rebuttable presumption of dumping.”

Dr Emerson and customs minister Brendan O’Connor said those kinds of tougher rules would invite retaliation from the World Trade Organisation.

Instead the ministers will boost the number of customs staff working on anti-dumping issues from 31 to 45... allow for provisional remedies to cut in earlier and set up an International Trade Remedies Forum with union and corporate members to oversee reforms.

Australian Industry Group chief Heather Ridout said the measures were a “positive step”. Australian Workers' Union secretary Paul Howes said they were a “crucial first step in giving local industry the chance to compete on a level playing field”.

Published in today's SMH and Age

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