Duties on imported steel could hurt Australian businesses, says Best Bar boss

Interim duties on steel products requested by Arrium against
allegedly dumped goods could be disastrous, the local steel company Best Bar Reinforcements has
said.

The Australian Financial Review reports that Best Bar’s
chief Grant Johnston feared for the future of his company if such measures were
taken.

Johnston’s firm, which has an annual turnover of $220
million and bends and fabricates imported steel, uses Singapore’s NatSteel
(owned by India’s Tata Group) as a supplier.

Johnston said that dumping – when a foreign company sells
goods at a loss – should be punished, but there were other things creating
major difficulties in Australia for steel companies.

“Where I have a problem is with Arrium saying imported product
is causing all of the issues,” he told The Australian Financial Review.

“They are saying the ADC is slow to act and should be
putting interim duties on people like ourselves and our steel mill.”

Arrium has requested that interim duties be placed on
imported rebar, which it claims has been dumped in Australia from South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey in increasing quantities every year.

Last month the combined iron ore and steel business
criticised a lack of action by the federal government regarding claims of
dumped steel.

“While we’ve seen encouraging signs and comment from
the government recently related to initiatives to improve our anti-dumping
regime, we are yet to see this reflected into actions and outcomes,” Arrium CEO Andrew Roberts said after the company announced a $1.5 billion first-half loss last month, driven mainly by impairments.

According to Johnston, an excess of capacity for local
steelmakers is the industry’s biggest problem, Rather than foreign competition.

The Commission launched an investigation into rebar dumping
last October, but recently delayed the publishing of its Statement of Essential
Facts from the investigation. This will now be made “no later than” the 23rd
of this month.

The ADC will present its findings to industry minister Ian Macfarlane on or by May 7.

Image: http://www.southernstructuralsteel.com