Monday, November 7, 2011

Chinese aluminum manufacturers challenge Australian dumping duties

The sensitive issue of Australian manufacturers being put under pressure from dumped Chinese imports is set to be heard in the Federal Court, as two Chinese aluminum manufacturers challenge the Australian government's decision to impose dumping duties.

The case stretches to government relations, given submissions by the Chinese government against the dumping conclusions reached by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. The Chinese government has argued that it considers state-owned enterprises to be commercial bodies and should not be defined as public bodies under the anti dumping laws.

Customs however has found that regardless of ownership, the level of control and regulation by the Chinese government in the aluminum industry in China is so significant that primary aluminum producers and suppliers are in fact responding to the Chinese government's industrial development policy.

PanAsia Aluminum (China) Limited and Tai Shan City Kam Kiu Aluminum Extrusion Company Limited have lodged documents in the Federal Court, seeking to quash a decision of Attorney General Robert McClelland, who recently reaffirmed the dumping finding. PanAsia has had a countervailing duty of up to 13.6% imposed on its imports into Australia and Tai Shan of up to 7.4%.

In court documents, PanAsia said that the dumping duty notice and the countervailing duties, adversely affect its commercial position in the Australian market. The decision involved errors of law, and was an improper exercise of power, it claims. In the Kam Kiu case, the government has been asked to provide all documents on which customs based its dumping determination.

The aluminum saga began in May 2009 when ASX listed company Capral which had about half the Australian market for aluminum extruded product such as bars, tubes, pipes, doors and window frames notified the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service of alleged dumping.

During its investigation customs identified more than 300 importers of Chinese aluminum products. PanAsia and Kam Kui were identified in a group of seven importers which accounted for more than half the goods imported. The Australian market involves about 195,000 tonnes of goods sold a year.

Customs found that the subsidization and dumping of the Chinese aluminum had caused 'material damage'' to the local industry. Customs had determined that a range of Chinese imported aluminum products were priced at below normal value, and had used as a guide prices on the London Metal Exchange.

It found the Chinese products had been dumped with margins ranging from 2.7% to 25.7% and subsidized with margins from 3.8% to 18.4%. Capral had suffered a notable fall in sales and had been forced to lower its price to try to match the Chinese prices.

As a result of this investigation, the Australian government published a dumping notice and imposed countervailing duties on the Chinese companies in October 2010. In April, the Attorney General asked customs to reinvestigate some of its findings. Those findings were delivered, and in August Mr McClelland reaffirmed the dumping notice and duties.

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