BREAKING NEWS: Anti-dumping campaign achieves change
Jun 23, 2011
An AMWU campaign to stop illegal dumping has made inroads with the announcement this week that the Federal Government will introduce major reforms to the trading sector. Click here for more...
In 2010, the Productivity Commission put out a report which recommended weakening Australia’s ‘anti-dumping’ laws. The AMWU is opposed to this move, because it will cost Australian jobs by allowing overseas firms to unfairly compete against Australian manufacturing firms.
What is ‘dumping’?
‘Dumping’ is where a manufacturer sells its product at a lower price than the cost of production in its home market. Sometimes this is done to gain market share, and prices are put back up once the competition is put out of business.
In recent times, Australian industry has faced this kind of action from overseas firms, including from China. Examples include imported rolling and rail stock at prices that undercut Australian manufacturers who employ AMWU members. The steel, aluminium, paper and paper products industries have also been affected.
Why is the AMWU campaigning to strengthen ‘anti-dumping‘ laws?
Many AMWU members’ income and job security depends on their employers’ ability to successfully export and compete against imports. That is why productivity, international competitiveness and fair trade have always been core business for our union.
Maintaining a strong ‘anti-dumping’ regime in Australia is very much a part of that core business.
What can we do?
Australia, like all other countries, has rights under the World Trade Organisation’s rules to take action against importers by imposing duties that bring their prices back to fair value. A company that is affected by dumping can complain to Australian Customs, and the Customs Minister can then impose these countervailing measures.
These laws work, but we believe that more needs to be done as the Australian Customs Act currently gives Australian companies less rights than the WTO allows.
Even though the WTO allows countries to take action to prevent this kind of predatory pricing, free-market economists believe that governments should not intervene to stop dumping or protect jobs.
Why does the Productivity Commission want to remove these protections?
The Productivity Commission’s report proposed what they called a ‘public interest test’, which would allow dumping to occur if other Australian industries would benefit from the artificially lower prices on dumped imports, which of course, they would.
The AMWU was not alone in arguing that this test is too narrow because it will not consider whether the artificially low prices will be increased once Australian industries have been driven out of business. Such a test would also not consider whether it is in the public interest for those businesses to close and workers to lose their jobs in the first place.
Fair Trade versus Free Trade
The AMWU constantly has to defend our members’ jobs and Australia’s manufacturing industries from free-market ideologists and public bodies like the Productivity Commission that promote extreme free-market theory as public policy.
The AMWU believes in fighting to make workers’ rights like safety standards, fair pay, and environmental standards, part of the rules of global trade. We call this ‘fair trade’.
Right-wing ideologists believe in ‘free trade’, which means no rules for corporations, but doesn’t tend to make groups like workers, especially in poor countries, very free at all.
The AMWU, CFMEU and AWU made a joint submission to the government inquiry into the Productivity Commission’s report, which you can read here.
To view the Government fact sheets on dumping or for further information, click here.