Anti-dumping laws are disguised protectionism

| April 28, 2018

The conclusion of the Productivity Commission’s 2016-2017 Trade & Assistance Review that anti-dumping taxes are unnecessary and highly inefficient is spot on.

Anti-dumping rules are not only open to wide interpretation by the Anti-Dumping Commissioner and the Minister he advises, but also to chronic manipulation, as the local steel industry has demonstrated.

This is yet another flawed government policy further discouraging companies to invest in Australia, and if that costs profits and jobs, who exactly is it protecting?

During a recent anti-dumping investigation into galvanised steel between July 2015 and June 2016, the price of galvanised steel dropped around 15 per cent from its previous value.

Once the investigation concluded, the price of galvanised steel rose once more, reaching 35 per cent above its low point.

Not surprisingly, purchasers of steel products have found a remarkable correlation between the price of steel and the investigations of the Anti-Dumping Commissioner.

However the plight of consumers is being ignored in the equation – they pay the same high price whether they buy local or imported.

Last month the Anti-Dumping Commissioner, Dale Seymour, admitted during Senate Estimates hearings that his job only required him to consider injury to Australian producers, not to consumers or users of the products to which the anti-dumping duties are applied.

The anti-dumping process is clearly being used for a lot more than its original purpose.

We can criticise President Trump’s steel tariffs as deeply flawed protectionism that will damage US steel consumers and related industries, yet in Australia we continue to use anti-dumping measures for the same flawed reasons.

And all we are getting is the same negative result.