Australian Industry Steels Itself for Another Dumping Investigation

Australian Industry Steels Itself for Another Dumping Investigation

In very recent times there have been a number of dumping and subsidy investigations and associated measures affecting materials used in the construction, manufacturing and automotive industries. This has included the following:

  • Dumping and subsidy measures imposed on extruded aluminium
  • Dumping measures imposed on hollow steel sections
  • Dumping and countervailing measures imposed on aluminium road wheels and
  • Proposed dumping measures on hot-rolled coil steel.

All of these investigations and measures apply to exports from various Asian countries especially the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”), the Republic of Korea (“Korea”), Taiwan and Japan.

These investigations are all at various stages and we are involved in the majority of these investigations. For example, the measures recently imposed on aluminium road wheels are subject to applications for review by the Trade Measures Review Officer (“TMRO”). These applications have been made by a number of parties including a number of our clients. Public notification of the commencement of the review will be made shortly and we would be pleased to assist any parties seeking to make submissions to the review.

More immediately, as of 5 September 2012, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (“Customs”) has published a notice of the initiation of a new investigation into alleged dumping on exports of zinc coated (galvanised) steel and aluminium zinc coated steel exported from the PRC, Korea and Taiwan. As with the investigation into alleged dumping of exports of hot-rolled coil steel, the applicant for the investigation is BlueScope Steel Limited (“BSL”) on behalf of the Australian industry. Relevant goods are classified to tariff classification 7210.49.00 (statistical codes 55, 56, 57 and 58), 7212.30.00 (statistical code 61) and 7210.61.00 (statistical codes 60, 61 and 62).

The new investigation comes at a very interesting time from a legal, commercial and political perspective. That context includes the following:

  • A number of similar actions overseas in relation to similar products
  • Recent corporate and media announcements by BSL regarding its financial performance, and reasons for that financial performance. Reasons given include the lack of demand for its products from the manufacturing and building industries, the appreciation of the Australian dollar making overseas imports relatively cheaper, the costs of the review and closure of much of BSL’s export business, as well as damage caused by allegedly dumped imports. At the same time, BSL has announced a new joint venture with Nippon Steel for the production of some of its products. The announcement of the joint venture with Nippon Steel is additionally of interest given that BSL has alleged that Nippon Steel is one of the exporters dumping hot-rolled coil steel
  • The current Brumby Review being undertaken as to whether Australia should have a stand-alone authority responsible for dumping and subsidy investigations and implementation of relevant measures and
  • The current Parliamentary consideration of a number of new Bills to amend Australia’s dumping and countervailing regime, including specific measures to stop the “circumvention” of Australian measures by parties trying to reduce or avoid measures imposed on certain goods.