The Opposition will insist tougher barriers be erected to the dumping here of deliberately under-priced products.
“Labor will not let Australia become a dumping ground for cheap foreign goods sent here by trade cheats,” said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
US President Donald Trump this morning Australian time is scheduled to sign into law a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports into America and 10 per cent on aluminium.
The Turnbull Government is hoping Australia will be exempted from the punishing levies, but had not been given any assurances from Washington.
A major flaw in the President’s move could see desperate producers in other countries flooding Australia with steel they can no longer find buyers for in America.
“If this happens, it puts Australian jobs at risk,” said Mr Shorten.
Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe has labelled US President Donald Trump’s decision to raise tariffs on steel and aluminium as ‘highly regrettable and bad policy.’
Dr Lowe says President Trump should take heed of history, which shows that protectionism is ‘very costly’ to everyone.
The RBA governor warned growing protectionism is a threat to the global economy and the US government’s decision could spark a trade war.
President Trump is planning to impose a 25 per cent tax on all imported steel, and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium.
Today he will promise a Labor government would triple penalties for dumping, and create a one-stop shop for complaints about practices risking Australian manufacturing and agriculture.
And the Anti-Dumping Commission, which polices attempts to sneak imports through restrictions, would get an extra $3.5 million in funding to a total of $17.8 million a year – enough for at least one extra investigation team.
The Labor leader said Australian manufacturing already burdened by high energy costs.
“This pressure is being compounded by the actions of foreign companies dumping goods in Australia at a price below the normal value in the exporting country,” he said.
Mr Shorten believes Australia is more vulnerable to dumping than comparable countries.
He said that in 2015, Australia imposed duties of 24 per cent on dumped steel while the United States was imposing duties of 256 per cent.
Australia rarely imposes anti-dumping penalties in excess of 30 per cent.
“In a global environment where dumping is likely to increase, Labor’s tougher penalties will send a strong signal of Australia’s willingness to take action,” he said.
“Revenue from this increase in penalties will be invested into strengthening Australia’s anti-dumping system.”
Anti-Dumping Commissioner Dale Seymour told a Senate committee on March 1 “any material change to tariff or quota arrangements into the US for those products will pose a risk for other markets, of which we will certainly be one”.
Mr Seymour said the knock-on effect “would be that you could expect to see some increase in volumes of those goods into other markets”.
“It is prudent that Australia take action to ensure trade remains fair and within established international rules,” he said.