Australia reviews Chinese aluminium imports amid anti-dumping probe with more ‘trade skirmishes’ expected

August 9, 2022 GMT

Australia has initiated another anti-dumping investigation into Chinese aluminium extrusions, which have a wide variety of uses including construction, as the “long game” between Beijing and Canberra continues.

Aluminium producer Capral lodged an application for a review of current anti-dumping measures, according to Australia’s Anti-Dumping Commission.

The measures were initially imposed in October 2010 and apply to all exporters from China, except Guangdong Jiangsheng Aluminium and Guangdong Zhongya Aluminium, official information showed.

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It is expected that a final recommendation will be provided to the Australian Department of Industry, Science and Resources no later than November 28, according to a statement on China Trade Remedies Information, a platform maintained by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

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“There exist many loopholes in anti-dumping investigations. Firms and governments can manipulate them. Even if an anti-dumping case had been resolved many years ago, the importing country’s government can still review the cases to see if dumping still exists,” said Qiu Dongxiao, head of the economics department at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University.

“Anti-dumping and countervailing practices are non-tariff barriers, which are easier for a government to use for protection purposes. It is, therefore, not surprising to see that more cases will come up and the long game (between China and Australia) will continue.”

So-called dumping occurs when a company exports a product at a price lower than normally charged in the importing market, with protectionist anti-dumping tariffs applied when a government believes imports are priced below fair market value.

Amid escalating tensions between Beijing and Canberra, China exported US$132 million worth of aluminium extrusions to Australia in 2020, according to China customs data.

The export value rose to US$190 million in 2021 and US$614 million in the first six months of 2022.

Overall, Australia imported A$369 million (US$257 million) of aluminium extrusions in 2020 and A$472 million in 2021, according to official figures from Australia Aluminium Council.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner and the biggest customer for its iron ore, but relations have deteriorated in recent years.

Beijing imposed trade sanctions on Australian products in response to calls from the previous Morrison administration for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus and the decision to ban Huawei Technologies Co. Technologies Co. Technologies Co. Technologies Co. Technologies Co. from its 5G network.

Australia has also launched anti-dumping investigations into Chinese steel and A4 paper.

“Given the current unpleasant economic and political relations between China on the one side and other Western countries, including Australia on the other side, trade battles will occur more often and last longer,” Qiu added.

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“I do not expect any Western government to change its position and become closer to China. Hence, we will expect to see more, not less, trade skirmishes between China and Australia.”

The Albanese government has requested China to drop all its punitive trade tariffs imposed on Australian products.

Top Chinese officials and analysts said the relationship will improve if Australia “thinks from the perspective of mutual benefits”, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Australia diplomatic ties.

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