The Manufacturing Division of the CFMEU is calling on the Morrison Government to use today’s Budget to boost the defence of Australian jobs in the timber, wood products, paper, furniture and textile clothing and footwear manufacturing industries against cheap imports from China and other overseas suppliers.
The union wants to see the Anti-Dumping Commission’s funding increased to safeguard Australian industry against predatory imports designed to knock out key Australian industries like manufacturing and leave Australia reliant on imports.
Last year the Commission’s funding allocation fell to $11.6 million – a 5% reduction compared to the previous year’s allocation – a move the union describes as shocking in the current climate.
“The Commissions role is to defend Australian jobs and industry against unfair predatory imports,” CFMEU Manufacturing Division National Secretary Michael O’Connor said.
“We can’t afford to have the economic recovery derailed by losing manufacturing jobs and losing more manufacturing capacity.
“Stimulus like big infrastructure and social housing projects needs to local support building products supply chains, not imports.”
When products are dumped (imported at a price below the price it is sold/ costs to make in producing countries overseas) Australian companies and unions can apply to the Anti-Dumping Commission to have tariffs put on the imports if the dumping damages local industry.
Currently Anti-Dumping tariffs are in place on imported steel products, paper products, glass products, foodstuffs, electrical equipment, chemicals products and aluminium products with the main dumping offenders being China, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines.
In addition to building products the union wants to see a new focus on dumped consumer products like tissue paper, furniture and textile clothing and footwear which a funding boost will accommodate.
There is usually a cyclical upswing in actions against dumping during softer economic conditions (for example, previous peaks in activity were observed during 1991-92 (economic contraction and the Iraq war), 1997-98 (Asian Financial Crisis), 2001-02 (bursting of the dotcom bubble and September 11) and following the Global Financial Crisis
In light of the global recession other countries are already taking tough safeguard, anti-dumping and other defensive actions to defend their industries against and the continued global oversupply of steel, paper, alloy, glass, processed food and solar panels amongst other products.
The union is also concerned that China might escalate its trade war against Australia by increasing its already high level of dumping to try to decimate Australian industry and increase Australia’s reliance on Chinese goods.
The union has been calling for a funding injection for the Commission for years and Labor committed to a 35% of increase of funding prior to the 2019 election.
The union also wants the Government to introduce a long awaited legislative Anti-Dumping reform package understood to be first presented to Cabinet in 2018 and to transfer the responsibility of emergency tariffs/ (safeguards) from the Productivity Commission to the Anti-Dumping Commission