Trade Policy, Standards and Conformance

The department supports the internationalisation of Australian industry, encourages Australia's multilateral and bilateral industry and trade cooperation, and manages the Commonwealth's relationships with standards and conformity assessment bodies.

Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are an important aspect of the Australian Government’s integrated trade, industry and innovation strategies. FTAs are targeted trade treaties between two or more countries, which seek to remove or reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers between the parties. Through FTAs, Australian companies gain access to broader international markets and Australian markets are opened up to greater competition. 

As part of a whole-of-government approach, the department plays a key role in the negotiation and the ongoing administration of FTAs. The department does this by advising on issues as varied as tariffs, rules of origin, services, investment, trade remedies and technical and product standards

The department provides policy advice on, and administration of, the Australian Government's interface with key technical infrastructure bodies including National Measurement InstituteStandards Australia and the National Association of Testing Authorities via separate Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs).  In addition to this, it represents Australia in relation to standards and conformance aspects of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and free trade negotiations.  The department also administers a number of mutual recognition agreements and arrangements

Australia's Anti-dumping system

The department is responsible for Australia’s anti-dumping and countervailing system. The system is administered by the Anti-Dumping Commission and policy responsibility sits with the Portfolio Strategic Policy Division.  The system provides Australian manufacturers with the ability to apply for anti-dumping and/or countervailing duties where they have experienced injury from dumped and/or subsidised goods being imported into Australia.

On 9 September 2016, the Government released the Analysis of Steel and Aluminum Markets Report. The Anti‑Dumping Commission (the Commission) prepared the Report. It found that government interventions in a number of countries are causing continuing global excess capacity, over production and depressed prices in Asian steel and aluminum markets and that these factors can displace production in other markets, including Australia, through dumping and subsidisation. The Report highlights the need for Australia to maintain an effective anti-dumping system to mitigate injury to Australian businesses. A range of improvements to the operations of the Commission have been announced to complement the findings of the Report. These changes will improve the integrity of decisions and the effectiveness of the system and include:

  • Implementation of a new investigations model to improve the timeliness, quality and evidence base for the Anti-Dumping Commissioner's decisions and recommendations on dumping and subsidisation matters.
  • Adoption of a more active, risk based approach to address proven circumvention activities, including through:
    • retrospective implementation of anti-circumvention measures (to the initiation of the inquiry)
    • sufficiently broad modifications to the goods description.
  • Facilitation of a stronger whole of government approach to compliance, including enhanced collaboration between the Commission and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
  • Enhancing the Commission's market intelligence capability to conduct targeted research and market analysis, support investigations, strengthen the evidence-base for the Commissioner's decisions, and pro-actively identify issues relevant to the effectiveness of the trade remedies system.
  • Strengthening access to and use of international information by developing sharing protocols.
  • Strengthening access to and use of Australian industry expertise in investigations by engaging an independent steel and aluminium industry expert to provide technical and market advice.
  • Improving the efficiency of operations by delegating Ministerial powers to make the final decisions in duty assessments and to grant extensions to investigation timeframes to the Commissioner.

On 1 June 2015, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Industry (the Committee) released a report entitled Circumvention: Closing the loopholes: Inquiry into Australia's anti-circumvention framework in relation to anti dumping measures. The report was based on the Committee’s inquiry into Australia’s anti circumvention framework in relation to anti dumping measures. The Government’s response to the report was tabled in Parliament on 15 March 2016. The response notes or agrees in principle with the recommendations and outlines the Government’s plans for the implementation of the recommendations. For more information view the Government’s response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture and Industry report Circumvention: closing the loopholes

On 15 December 2014, the Government announced a package of reforms to implement its election commitments and a number of additional improvements to Australia’s anti-dumping and countervailing system.

Previous reforms to improve the system include those announced in the June 2011 Streamlining Australia’s anti-dumping system policy document and the range of reforms announced in the December 2012 interim response to the Prime Minister’s Taskforce on Manufacturing.

The Anti-Dumping Commission website contains further information about the operation of the anti-dumping system and how to make an application.

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