The federal government, with the support of the opposition, has sought to strengthen Australia’s anti-dumping and countervailing system against cheap foreign imports. Recent changes to the Customs Act and the creation of a new Anti-Dumping Commission are designed to make it easier for Australian producers to bring anti-dumping actions against foreign producers. If this leads to a sustained increase in anti-dumping actions, it will mark the end of a downward trend in Australia’s use of anti-dumping measures since the mid-1980s. It will also impose growing costs on the Australian economy.
The attempt to reinvigorate Australia’s anti-dumping system is part of a broader trend in Australian public policy to provide increased industry assistance at the expense of Australian consumers and taxpayers. This report argues that Australia should instead scrap its anti-dumping and countervailing system, in addition to other forms of trade protection and industry assistance. The report examines the meaning of dumping and its place in Australian law and international trade agreements. It details the history and recent trends in anti-dumping and countervailing measures in Australia. It then examines the economics of dumping and the political economy of anti-dumping measures. Finally, it argues that Australia’s anti-dumping system harms Australian producers and consumers and undermines community support for free trade.