Dumping is when a company sells goods in Australia at a price which is below the price it charges in its domestic market or which is below the cost of production.
For example, if a company in Country X sells a product for $10 but exports that same product to Australia for $8, that is considered dumping. Or, if it costs a company in Country X $5 to make a product and they export it to Australia for $3, that is also considered dumping.
Examples of goods which have recently been found to have been dumped in Australia include glass, toilet paper, steel, oranges and preserved mushrooms.
Essentially, dumping puts Australian companies at a significant disadvantage because they can't compete against these cheap, below cost imports.
The Government is able to apply duties against dumped goods to protect Australian industry however, to have these duties applied, Australian manufacturers have to lodge a lengthy, expensive and onerous application with Customs to request that they conduct an investigation.
Importantly, as part of an application, Australian companies have to prove that 'material injury' has been caused as a direct result of the dumped goods. Without clear evidence of 'material injury' and despite the fact that dumping may well be occurring, Customs will not apply duties against the goods.
This leaves Australian businesses in real difficulty. For example, the current definition of 'material injury' doesn't take into consideration the impact on jobs.
I introduced a Private Senator’s Bill aimed at strengthening the current application process, making it less onerous on Australian businesses and to open up the process so that Australian companies can have greater say in proving that goods have been dumped.
After lengthy consultation on the issue, the Government has adopted many of my proposed amendments and there is currently legislation before the Parliament to amend the Customs Act, with another Bill to be introduced later this year.
I believe that free trade is good, but it can't be free-for-all trade. It's vital that Australian companies are able to thrive and survive against dumped imports.