Australia won’t join an international revolt against the United States’ steel tariffs because local steel is exempt from the price hikes.
Some countries may take action against the United States’ 25 per cent tariffs on imported steel, but Malcolm Turnbull says Australia is exempt and won’t join them.
“I know there’s been speculation in the media about action being taken by other countries in the World Trade Organisation about the US steel and aluminium tariffs,” the prime minister told reporters on Monday.
“As as a country that will be exempt from those tariffs, we don’t have a basis to bring a complaint.”
Trade Minister Steve Ciobo on the weekend left open the possibility Australia could join other nations in an action over the tariffs, but on Monday he ruled it out.
“We’re not going to be subjected to it, so we won’t be sustaining an injury, so we don’t be part of an action when we’re not incurring any injury,” Mr Ciobo told Sky News.
Mr Trump said in a tweet his administration was “working very quickly on a security agreement” so it didn’t have to impose the steel or aluminium tariffs on Australia.
But Mr Turnbull said there was no extra security arrangement beyond what Australia already provided.
“I had the conversation with him. I know exactly what was discussed and there is no request for any change or addition to our security arrangements,” Mr Turnbull said.
“The US imports into Australia have zero tariffs. It can not get any better. That is as level a playing field as you could imagine.”
Labor finance spokesman Jim Chalmers says steel destined for the US from other countries will now be dumped below cost in Australia.
“Sometimes that steel is dumped for ridiculously low prices and that smashes our local businesses, our local industry and our local workers,” Mr Chalmers told Sky News.
“Our anti-dumping regime is weaker than other countries, and it’s insufficiently resourced.”
But Mr Turnbull says Australia has a strong anti-dumping regime and it is prepared for steel imports.
‘We have beefed ours up. We’ve given our Anti-Dumping Commission stronger powers. We have given them more money,” he said.
“We believe in free trade but it has to be fair, there should be a level playing field.”
Australia recently imposed steel tariffs on Greece, Thailand, Indonesia, Spain and Taiwan, while Labor wants the government to triple the penalties for dumping products into the Australian market.