AMWU opposes relaxed anti-dumping laws

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) has said it ‘strongly opposes’ a Productivity Commission report recommending weakening Australia’s ‘anti-dumping’ laws, saying the move would allow overseas manufacturers an unfair advantage.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) has said it ‘strongly opposes’ a Productivity Commission report recommending weakening Australia’s ‘anti-dumping’ laws, saying the move would allow overseas manufacturers an unfair advantage.

According to the AMWU, relaxing the anti-dumping laws will cost Australian jobs by allowing overseas firms to unfairly compete against Australian manufacturing firms.

Many AMWU members’ income and job security depends on their employers’ ability to successfully export and compete against imports and, according to AMWU, that is why productivity, international competitiveness and fair trade have always been core business for the union.

Maintaining a strong ‘anti-dumping’ regime in Australia is very much a part of that core business, AMWU says.

“Australia, like all other countries, has rights under the World Trade Organisation’s rules to take action against importers by imposing duties that bring their prices back to fair value. A company that is affected by dumping can complain to Australian Customs, and the Customs Minister can then impose these countervailing measures,” the AMWU said.

“These laws work, but we believe that more needs to be done as the Australian Customs Act currently gives Australian companies less rights than the WTO allows.

“Even though the WTO allows countries to take action to prevent this kind of predatory pricing, free-market economists believe that governments should not intervene to stop dumping or protect jobs.”

According to AMWU, the Productivity Commission’s report proposed what they called a ‘public interest test’, which would allow dumping to occur if other Australian industries would benefit from the artificially lower prices on dumped imports.

The AMWU was not alone in arguing that this test is too narrow because it will not consider whether the artificially low prices will be increased once Australian industries have been driven out of business, the organisation claims.

“Such a test would also not consider whether it is in the public interest for those businesses to close and workers to lose their jobs in the first place,” AMWU said.

“The AMWU constantly has to defend our members’ jobs and Australia’s manufacturing industries from free-market ideologists and public bodies like the Productivity Commission that promote extreme free-market theory as public policy.

“The AMWU believes in fighting to make workers’ rights like safety standards, fair pay, and environmental standards, part of the rules of global trade. We call this ‘fair trade’.

“Right-wing ideologists believe in ‘free trade’, which means no rules for corporations, but doesn’t tend to make groups like workers, especially in poor countries, very free at all.”

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