The case for imported fabricated steel

Is there a legitimate reason for Australian industry to import fabricated steel? We’ve heard the case against it; now let’s hear the case for it.

Talk this past month of reducing the number of steel dumping happenings in Australia has lead to chatter from industry delegates about the issue of protectionism and import taxes; where one finishes, and the other begins.  

The latest inquiry into steel imports is underway, with Australian authorities including Customs looking into China and four other Asian countries in regards to some suspicious steel arriving on our shores.

The government has recently committed to improving Australia’s anti-dumping regulations in an act of support for local suppliers doing it tough on the export market.

But who is importing this shonky steel? And what are they using it for?

Union representatives for the steel industry are criticising the decision to use cheap Chinese aluminium for the new headquarters for the federal Climate Change Department.

Fairfax news outlets report that “unions have gone on the warpath” after learning that the new headquarters will use cheap Chinese aluminium, claiming it is dirtier to produce than the Australian product.

Government departments are well-known for choosing cost over face, however the mining industry has also been accused of importing cheap steel.

The government has appointed a manufacturing envoy to help local manufacturers secure more contracts from major companies such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Woodside Petroleum, who all reportedly favour Chinese products.

According to the Australian Steel Institute (ASI), it’s high-time we heard from the companies importing the cheap steel – because there’s no use shaming them until we know the full story.

ASI National Manager – Industry Development, Ian Cairns, told Manufacturers’ Monthly that there are various reasons companies like Woodside, Rio Tinto & BHP continue to choose imported steel over locally-made products.

“There are a number of reasons; buying from their major customers; ability to buy cheaper less quality product; EPCM’s global supply chain commitments,” he said.

For Cairns, the latest government enquiry into steel dumping is a positive move for the industry, however it is high time we heard the case from the companies importing the fabricated steel.

“These dumping actions have happened before. The ASI see it as a good thing that we are objecting,” he said.

“However it is not the saviour to all our issues. We would like to see a case and objections for imported fabricated steel as well.”

Does your company import steel from Asia? Why do you choose this over local steel? Comment below.