Published: 24 Mar 2017
Last Friday after the close of business the Anti-Dumping Commission quietly announced the Government was terminating anti-dumping import duties which had been levied against one of South-East Asia’s largest paper mills since November last year.
The termination of the tariffs on the Asia Pulp and Paper owned Indonesian mill (Tjiwi Kimi) came following weeks of Indonesian Government pressure linked to talks about a bilateral free trade agreement.
The decision risks jobs at Australian Paper which is the largest private sector employer in the Latrobe Valley, providing 1000 direct jobs and 5,000 indirect jobs
“Australian Paper’s workers copped a raw deal with the China Australia Free Trade Agreement and it looks like history is repeating itself” said CFMEU Pulp and Paper District National Secretary Mr Alex Millar.
PM Turnbull and Indonesian President Jokowi discussed a free trade agreement in Sydney last month where the barriers for Indonesian paper exporters were raised.
Following this, Indonesia’s top trade official Thomas Lembong complained to the Australian media about what he unilaterally deemed “artificial” trade barriers preventing Australia importing more Indonesian paper.
In Indonesia recently Trade Minister Steve Ciobo conceded that in the face of the Indonesian pressure the original tariff decisions on Indonesian paper were being reviewed.
“Australia’s Anti-Dumping system should be a sacrosanct- its independence should not be traded away in the pursuit of trophy free trade agreements” cautioned Mr. Millar
A U.S Government decision last year resulted in anti-dumping duties of 17% and and countervailing duties of 109% levied against this particular mill for all imports to the US. The decision on Friday means the same paper from the same mill will enter Australia tariff free.
“The U.S took a hard line against the 210,000 tonnes of dumped and subsidized A4 paper coming into the country from Indonesia every year.
“210,000 tonnes represents the entire Australian market”
“Having lost the U.S market this excess Indonesian capacity will be directed somewhere and our Government’s capitulation means it might be directed here, risking local jobs”.
All eyes are now on assistant industry Minister Laundy who was provided the Commission’s final report on Friday and has 30 days to respond.
“339 days have passed since investigation was initiated with dumping still occurring, despite mandated investigation period of 155 days.”
Because of the uncertainty created by PM Turnbull’s and Minister’s Ciobo’s extraordinary interventions, the union is calling for a prompt response from Mr Laundy.
“Mr Laundy has portrayed himself as a bit of a stickler for people obeying the rule of law in the last week.
“Lets’ see if it extends to cracking down on Indonesian export breaching international trade laws and costing Aussie jobs or if he too will be cowed by the meddling of his senior colleagues” concluded Mr Millar.