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Economics Legislation Committee
31/05/2018
Estimates
JOBS AND INNOVATION PORTFOLIO
Anti-Dumping Commission

Anti-Dumping Commission

[17:43]

CHAIR: I now call on the Anti-Dumping Commission. Thank you very much for joining us. I probably should have asked the Office of Innovation and Science Australia this, but I will ask you: do you have an opening statement for the committee?

Mr Seymour : No, I don't.

Senator KIM CARR: Mr Seymour, you have been in the news lately. There has been a bit of an argument saying that your work is essentially part of a protectionist drive within Australia. How do you respond to those criticisms? I particularly draw your attention to comments from neoliberals in The Australian newspaper.

Mr Seymour : Commentators have a variety of views about what the Anti-Dumping Commission does, and they are entitled to those views.

Senator KIM CARR: Do you consider yourself part of a protectionist regime or do you have a broader role?

Mr Seymour : As I may have said in previous hearings, I don't see the trade remedy system as anything other than part of an international ruled based global trading system. Inside that system, nation states who are members of the WTO, the World Trade Organization, have the opportunity to set domestic laws that counter the injurious effects of dumping or subsidisation on domestic manufacturers. They enjoy that right through membership of the WTO under the Anti-Dumping Agreement and the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures.

Senator KIM CARR: Consistent with our international treaty obligations.

Mr Seymour : Absolutely.

Senator KIM CARR: You don't have an individual budget line in the budget papers, do you?

Mr Seymour : It's within the ordinary industry program. I think that's right.

Senator KIM CARR: Departmental appropriation. What are your funding levels?

Mr Seymour : They have been consistently around $12 million for the last few years. An injection by the department of an additional $1.1 million two financial years ago enabled expansion of my investigating capability.

Senator KIM CARR: Was that an annual increase?

Mr Seymour : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: Or just a one-off?

Mr Seymour : I'm certainly treating it that way.

Senator KIM CARR: Sorry?

Mr Lawson : It's a permanent increase.

Senator KIM CARR: To the base?

Ms Weston : Departmental priorities are set by the executive and the secretary every year. There's an allocation for each of the divisions, and I think the commissioner is saying that the department has given him an increase of $1.1 million for his budget, and that's continuing at the moment.

Senator KIM CARR: Is that indexed?

Ms Weston : I think we do have an indexation, but I will get back to you on that.

Senator KIM CARR: It should be, shouldn't it?

Ms Weston : There is a general efficiency dividend applying to departments, so I would need to confirm that.

Senator KIM CARR: What's the value of the antidumping duties collected in 2017-18?

Mr Seymour : I might ask Mr Paul Sexton if he has the most recent data. The only reason I do that is there is a duty refund program that operates that acts as a sort of drawback on duties paid.

Mr Sexton : To 30 April 2017-18 the net duties collected are $58.4 million.

Senator KIM CARR: How does that compare to 2016-17?

Mr Sexton : For 2016-17 the total year was $70.57 million.

Senator KIM CARR: It has gone down?

Mr Sexton : It's only up to 30 April.

Senator KIM CARR: I see; that's year to date. There are a series of questions I will put on notice through the normal process. I will ask if you can give me a table showing your funding year on year since the commission was established. I'm interested to know the impact of the section 232 US tariffs. Have you had any opportunity to examine the impact of the changes to the US regime that have been put in place?

Mr Seymour : We certainly have. We have been very focused on assessing likely impacts in relation to displaced steel that, based on modelling we've had commissioned, might find its way to the Australian market.

Senator KIM CARR: How does that occur?

Mr Seymour : Typically the theory goes that, as certain markets become more expensive, sellers of the steel find more appropriate buyers in other markets. Steel and aluminium, as we all know, are highly commoditised.

Senator KIM CARR: What has your modelling found?

Mr Seymour : For me the most interesting result of the independent modelling undertaken for the Anti-Dumping Commission was that, based on two scenarios, the overall outcome found the impact on the Australian market holistically—I deliberately use that word—to be immaterial, which is not surprising when you consider the size of the Australian market and that the market is currently in a growth phase. Having said that, our main steelmakers have expressed concerns that at a product level they may come under pressure.

Senator KIM CARR: What do you think of that claim?

Mr Seymour : I think it's legitimate to have that claim, and we've supported them very strongly in putting them around a table to discuss likely implications of that. As a result of that we have enhanced our BAU, business-as-usual, analysis of the performance of existing trade measures on steel and aluminium to ensure we're able to see what's going on from a trade flow perspective and, if we believe there is added pressure from a dumping or subsidisation perspective, do something about it, which is open to me and the minister under the legislation.

Senator KIM CARR: You've mentioned steel, but have you done any assessment on aluminium?

Mr Seymour : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: Same process?

Mr Seymour : The modelling accommodated both steel and aluminium.

Senator KIM CARR: I understand that as far as Australia is concerned the US decisions affect some 12 million metric tonnes of steel and two million of aluminium. Is that correct?

Mr Seymour : Those are the parameters in the modelling. I would say that it is very much a movable feast as we speak, as certain arrangements come under review in the US, which may give rise to the need for me to commission updated modelling once we hear the policy outcomes from the US administration.

Senator KIM CARR: If those figures are right, that's about double the per-annum domestic conception of steel here and four times the amount of steel Australia imports every year.

Mr Seymour : To assist senators in understanding the complexity of this I might ask Nathan Zhivov if he wouldn't mind stepping us through the high level analysis in the report. I think that will answer that question.

Senator PATRICK: Is the report public and can you table it?

Mr Seymour : It's not public, but by special decree I have brought some copies.

Senator KIM CARR: What a surprise!

Mr Seymour : I'm very happy to share them, provided the minister's happy for me to do so.

Senator Cash: Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: Can we table those?

Mr Seymour : I only have two colour copies. It was not in my capacity to do more than that.

CHAIR: An amazing coincidence.

Senator KIM CARR: I am sure the secretariat can get a colour photocopier somewhere.

Mr Seymour : At great expense to the commission, I might add.

CHAIR: We will have a quick look and make sure we can do that, which I'm sure we can.

Senator Cash: Senator Patrick, you didn't expect that?

Senator PATRICK: No, it's fantastic. Commissioners have all been very good today.

Mr Seymour : Transparency is worth the effort.

Senator PATRICK: Good, my reputation precedes me.

Senator KIM CARR: Do you wish to give us anything further?

Mr Seymour : If you have time, I'm happy for Nathan Zhivov to take us through the very high level findings.

Senator KIM CARR: What is your executive summary?

Mr Zhivov : Probably the key findings are that the proclamations in the United States before any exemptions were put in place covered an estimated 57 per cent of steel imports and 84 per cent of aluminium imports. The modellers, Cadence Economics, then constructed a CGE model, a computable general equilibrium model, to try to estimate what amount of that potential displaced steel could end up in Australia. The upshot of the numbers that they came to was that, in a scenario where there were exemptions for all of the parties, all of the nations listed in the initial proclamations, you would see an increase in steel imports of 13,000 tonnes, which is approximately 0.4 of one per cent of imports into Australia, and for aluminium you'd see a potential for an extra 300 tonnes, which is approximately 0.1 per cent additional imports coming into Australia.

Senator KIM CARR: But you then say the companies have got a legitimate concern about particular lines?

Mr Zhivov : That's right. We didn't model down to the product-specific level.

Senator KIM CARR: In the previous estimates, you provided us with advice on the work that you are doing. How much of your work's in steel and aluminium?

Mr Seymour : Currently, of the 80 measures in place, 58 relate to steel and aluminium. That relates to 17 products over 17 countries. So it's the vast bulk of the work that we've been doing now for the last three or four years.

Senator KIM CARR: And that's why you're saying there should be some caveat—that the companies are right to have some caveat on that proposition that this may not have a material impact?

Mr Seymour : Well, I think there are two messages here. The first is that, at a sort of macro level, the Australian economy is essentially large enough and strong enough to deal with that threat, based on the model. But it's only modelling. It's but one input into government's consideration of any actions they might take.

Senator PATRICK: Senator Carr, can I ask a couple of questions about this that go to the quality of the report, before we talk about what's in it?

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, sure. We've only got a limited time, and I've got some very specific measures that I want to go to about your current work plan, in particular around the reform package that's under consideration.

CHAIR: Are you happy to cede the call to Senator Patrick?

Senator PATRICK: This will just be very quick.

Senator KIM CARR: Sure, of course.

Senator PATRICK: In relation to the report, you said it uses a CGE model. The CGE model models these things and all sorts of levers that you pull, and different things come out. The index doesn't show a modelling report that would give someone skilled in the area some detail as to what assumptions you made in the modelling. Clearly that's really important to assess the quality of the report.

Mr Zhivov : No, it doesn't. The reason we didn't do that was a mix of time available in order to produce the report and the audience, which was the ITRF and not expert modellers, but—

Senator PATRICK: Did you get input from Australian industry prior to doing the report?

Mr Zhivov : No, we did not get input from Australian industry.

Senator PATRICK: It would seem to me that there would be all sorts of competitive dynamics that would affect, perhaps, the modelling, and, without taking that input, there may be errors in the report.

Mr Seymour : Well, look, it's a model.

Senator PATRICK: Sure.

Mr Seymour : The assumptions that were made were based on trade policy analysis by Cadence in relation to the markets that it was assessing and the countries therein. I can give you more detailed information on the model if that's what you're after.

Senator PATRICK: Sure—or maybe just provide to the committee the assumptions that were made. Are you going to industry to seek some input on that?

Mr Seymour : Absolutely. Essentially there's the picture in time of: what does this mean for the Australian economy and steel and aluminium? And there is the view of an independent consultant that says, 'We think it's immaterial.' I treat that as an input into an informed view. I will be producing my own commissioner's note in the next few weeks, which will take that into account. You've given me a really good idea that I hadn't really thought about in detail, but I will now. And we will take that commissioner's note, which is analysis at a more product level in relation to the views of industry, to the ITRF members in the next few weeks to consult with them directly on their views.

The area where it becomes a little challenging for us is that some of that information from industry is very easy to validate; other parts of that package of information are less easy to validate, so I've got to be very careful about the assumptions I make in relation to the veracity of some of that data. I will do that over the next couple of weeks.

Senator PATRICK: I just wanted to establish that, Chair and Senator Carr, before we sort of—

Senator KIM CARR: That's fair enough. If that's the case, can I ask you this. Is it true that the EU has commenced a safeguards investigation into steel?

Mr Seymour : That's my understanding.

Senator KIM CARR: What can you tell us about that?

Mr Seymour : I think it's probably a question better directed to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, all right. In your mind, is there a risk that they may impose tariffs or quotas as a result of that investigation? If that's the case, will that affect the assumptions that the Cadence report has made?

Mr Seymour : Indeed, that's what I was implying earlier. The changes—we live in interesting times and in the little old world of trade remedy, so absolutely.

Senator KIM CARR: So the knock-on effects may not have been considered, given the time of this report?

Mr Seymour : This was produced some—six weeks ago?

Mr Zhivov : Correct.

Senator KIM CARR: So it's time specific?

Mr Seymour : Yes, so it's my intention through this commissioner's note to update it, and, if I need to get further modelling, I will definitely do that.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you. If that's the case—and I appreciate your indicating that you're producing a commissioner's note—are there any other government agencies that you'll need to consult about that note?

Mr Seymour : Yes. We launched this process some time ago, and we've had extremely good collaboration from all the key Commonwealth agencies. The economic analysis that's in the modelling was presented to key agencies of the Commonwealth, and they were confident that the approach was sound. So we've collaborated and consulted.

Senator KIM CARR: So you think you've got support across government for your measures?

Mr Seymour : I would think so. I think that, as you say quite rightly, it's a point-in-time analysis. Change is occurring overnight in Europe, potentially, in relation to the US administration's decisions around steel and aluminium—

Senator KIM CARR: I'm pleased to hear that.

Mr Seymour : so the process might require further review in the next few weeks.

Senator KIM CARR: Given the time, I'm just sorry I can't prosecute this more completely. I'm interested in the exception based verification reporting. I wonder whether or not you think exception based verification reporting has the desired effect in reducing the time between the verification visits and the publication of verification reports?

Mr Seymour : The approach on exception based verification is really more a case of trying to take out of the old process some of the inefficiencies in the verification approach. The language around 'exception based' is a little misleading. In the last financial year we did something like 42 verification visits to other countries, and the majority of that activity was in Asia. Most of that activity was in China. That requires two of my investigators to travel together to those countries to verify in situ and to interrogate the data from the exporter directly. So exception based reporting doesn't mean that we're sitting back in Melbourne or Canberra and just looking at it from a data perspective without engaging and interrogating the owners of that data. But I might just ask Paul if he'd like to speak a little bit more about verification.

Senator KIM CARR: Could you specifically deal with the question about the change in the process and the proposition that manufacturers are putting that there's been a decline in the level of transparency in your work, given the changes in your reporting requirements?

Mr Sexton : There certainly has been a change in the way we've gone about verification. That was largely driven by the demands of industry that we speed up that particular process, which we have done. At the same time, our coverage has increased substantially, in terms of the imports that are coming into Australia and the number of exporters that we're now covering.

The comments you make about industry's concerns about transparency seem to be related to two areas, because we've had those comments as well. They appear to be in the areas of less detail, they claim, in relation to model matching—that is, are we actually comparing like with like in terms of the product range that's sold in the country of export compared to what's sold in Australia?—and, secondly, the adjustments that we make to the normal values or the export prices in Australia. They're the two areas where we've had most concern. Surprisingly, they are two areas where we haven't really made any changes in the verification process.

Senator KIM CARR: I see. You say that what has driven this is the demand to speed up the process. Industry is saying, 'Where did you get this idea from?' You had a consultant, didn't you, to put this together for you?

Mr Seymour : A number of years ago we went through a holistic review of the whole of the investigations regime, if you like, and one of the very significant bottlenecks that were causing major delays in case completion was the verification exercise. I think the language around 'exception based reporting' is a little misleading. Paul's right in the sense that we didn't change our approach on model matching. What we've tried to do is be leaner in the way that we put information out in the early part of the investigation. Essentially, what happens here is that Australian manufacturers who make a claim actually get access to almost all the information they want in fairly good time. The only block of information we don't share with them is some of the confidential pricing data, because that would be inappropriate.

Senator KIM CARR: Commercial breach, yes.

Mr Seymour : So it's hard—and I've had these conversations with them directly. I understand that they desire more information about the approach, because they start from the premise that they've been injured, and they want to see the data so they can satisfy themselves that we've undertaken our processes properly. It's a balance act. We can fine-tune it one way or the other over time. I think we've actually got it pretty right, to be honest with you. I think it's definitely delivered better outcomes for us.

Senator KIM CARR: I can see how your work would be polarising, given the nature of the decisions you're making. They put to me specific sections of your work. Essentially the proposition is that it's now taking 155 days without extensions in terms of review measures in the predominant areas of your verification reporting. Is that right?

Mr Seymour : Verification reporting?

Senator KIM CARR: Yes. 155 days? That's without any extensions.

Mr Seymour : Just on verification?

Senator KIM CARR: Yes.

Mr Seymour : That's a new one for me.

Senator KIM CARR: All right, this is for section 269TB, section 269ZA and section 269ZHB, to be precise.

Mr Seymour : I know the areas of the act. I'm just wondering—

Senator KIM CARR: I am sure you do. I'm certain I do. But I want to be clear what I'm asking you.

Mr Seymour : I'm just looking to Paul to see whether he might have some data that might assist you.

Mr Sexton : We use a number of measures to check our progress in this area, and I'll give you two. The first one is the average number of days to commence the onsite verification once a case is initiated, which is running to date at 98 days for 2017-18. That's come down from two years ago, when it was 191 days, so there's a significant improvement there. The other one is the average number of days for completion of an export verification report, and this year that's running at just 43 days to complete the report once the people come back from the verification. That's down from 92 days two years ago.

Senator KIM CARR: So this figure of 155 days is just wrong; is that what you're telling me?

Mr Sexton : I don't know where that figure has come from.

Senator KIM CARR: You don't recognise it; that's the point?

Mr Sexton : No.

Senator KIM CARR: I see. It is your evidence, then, that the exception based verification has improved performance, efficiency and timeliness. Is that the proposition?

Mr Seymour : It has contributed to it.

Senator KIM CARR: 'Contributed'?

Mr Seymour : There are so many moving parts in these investigations. I must add—and it's not by way of excuse but more by way of explanation and reason—that things have become very, very complicated in the space over the last few years. There's certain language I don't want to use, so what I'll say is that that complication has added to the overall complexity of how we go about pursuing the outcomes. We have got to a point now with on-site verification where, by volume, we are covering about—Paul?—85 per cent in that area.

Mr Sexton : The proportion of cooperating exporters in a particular case—we are now covering 62 per cent of them, but, in terms of the actual volume of imports that we're covering, it's 85 per cent.

Mr Seymour : That says to me that, if I'm a stakeholder, 85 per cent of the work that I'm wanting verified is being done in situ, in country.

Senator KIM CARR: It's like tax avoidance: this is an area where there needs to be constant attention. You have a series of reform measures that you're working on. What's happening with those?

Mr Seymour : The policy reform measures that you refer to are matters for the department to comment on.

Senator KIM CARR: But you have put a series of measures, I am led to believe. You've put measures to the International Trade Remedies Forum, have you not?

Mr Seymour : The trade remedies forum does two things. It's there under legislation to provide advice to the government of the day on how to improve working in the system and on the system. It does that job, I think, quite well. It has been consulted on operational reforms by me and consulted by the department on broader policy reforms, and that process is with the department.

Senator KIM CARR: Are you able to outline what those measures are that you're considering?

Mr Seymour : I think I'd refer to the department on that matter. It's not really an area for me to comment on. It's policy.

Mr Squire : The department undertook two consultation rounds with industry and developed a set of reforms for consideration by government. They were also informed by some of the committees that were formed through the ITRF.

Senator KIM CARR: I appreciate that. Given the time, can you tell me what these reforms are?

Mr Squire : The reforms are under consideration by government.

Senator KIM CARR: Sorry; the answer is no?

Mr Squire : The particular measures—as we responded to your question on notice—are currently being considered by government.

Senator KIM CARR: So you can't tell me. Thank you. Minister, you have received advice on this matter. Is that correct?

Senator Cash: It would actually be Senator Seselja who would receive the advice.

Senator KIM CARR: But you are the senior minister—

Senator Cash: Correct.

Senator KIM CARR: not the parliamentary secretary. The parliamentary secretary presumably provided you with a status report following the meeting on 17 April.

Senator Cash: That is correct.

Senator KIM CARR: When will we receive a response to that package of measures?

Senator Cash: That is currently being considered by government.

Senator KIM CARR: So that package has been presented to you?

Mr Lawson : As you'd understand, Senator Seselja manages the day-to-day operation.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, but the minister has to sign off.

Mr Lawson : Absolutely, and the minister signs off. The package is currently before the minister—very recently actually—for her consideration.

Senator Cash: And it's being considered.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you. That's all I needed. 'Very recently'? I'm told it was actually a month ago.

Mr Lawson : No. I remember seeing it, a matter of days ago, running over my desk.

Senator KIM CARR: So my information is wrong?

Mr Lawson : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you. I'll put the rest on notice.

Senator PATRICK: Just going back to the modelling report, you said you will provide the modelling assumptions to the committee. You are consulting with industry, so that means there's another stage, I presume, where this in effect becomes a draft, and a final may come out as a result of industry consultation.

Mr Seymour : I wouldn't describe what you have in front of you as a draft. It's a report that I commissioned at a particular point in time. That's been properly completed and delivered, but, as I explained earlier, this area is changing rapidly. So events that are occurring literally overnight will probably mean that we'll have to think again about some of those parameters, and that will be put into the commissioner's note that I intend to provide to industry over the next few weeks. As part of finalising that note—including looking at any additional modelling that we might need to do—obviously, I'll be consulting with the major stakeholders who are members of the International Trade Remedies Forum.

Senator PATRICK: You said you had a thought. I won't ask you for that thought because I always like to think on thoughts myself, but maybe you could put on notice what your thought was.

Mr Seymour : It was simply that the consultants presented at the ITRF meeting went through some of the assumptions that you're querying and asking about, which is quite appropriate and legitimate, and I think there's probably some value and benefit in sharing some of those assumptions. It's just a question of where I do it and how I do it.

Senator PATRICK: It adds a robustness to the report, because everyone gets to have a say. There's no criticism. Clearly, you're head of the game and I appreciate you bringing it along to estimates. Maybe you can do some estimates training for other departments.

Unidentified speaker: That's a compliment. Take it.

Senator KIM CARR: See you in the staff room, pin-up boy.

Senator PATRICK: What happens after you've issued your note?

Mr Seymour : That's a very good question. Essentially, we shift into the next phase, which is—as part of our ongoing work, we do keep a very close eye on what's happening with existing measures. Understanding our remit and boundaries and not exceeding our boundaries is very important to me. That's quite clear to me in terms of what the legislation provides for, and I am able to look at these trade flows that relate to existing measures. As I said earlier, we have 58 measures on steel and aluminium across 17 product lines, across 17 countries. So it's quite a significant cache, if you like, of coverage of trade measures, and it requires, I think, active, ongoing review.

It also relates—and this is an explanation as to why there's so much work on—things have become very, very active in this space over the last few years. There are over 1,600 antidumping trade remedy measures in place globally. We represent under four per cent of that number. It is the case, though, that, as these participants in the trade remedy system amp up their activity, as they respond to the challenges of the global trading system, it's important for us to stay in front of the curve on this, and the only way that I can see that we do this is to get better information earlier, and understand the nature of markets, what those markets are doing and how they're behaving, and then injecting that information directly into our case investigation work. The better we do that, the more informed we are and the higher the quality the outcome in terms of those investigations. And other jurisdictions are doing the same thing. So I don't think I have much choice but to be very vigilant in relation to that information and better understanding its impacts.

Senator PATRICK: As your vigilance plays out, is there more countervailing going on? Are you seeing more of that now?

Mr Seymour : I think there are a lot of claims of the effect of subsidisation but it's a much smaller jurisdiction globally than the antidumping jurisdiction. We are a moderate user in that regard, in terms of the work that we do. I have a series of views about the way that the countervailing agreement operates, which I don't think I'll share tonight, but I do think that, again, the information about the nature of the programs that are going on in these jurisdictions and the effect of those programs on the landed cost of those products in the Australian market needs ongoing treatment.

Senator PATRICK: Do you ever get a sense that there's any government involvement or assistance or complicity or just tacitness in these countervailing activities?

Mr Seymour : I'll take a step back and, rather than answer that question directly, I will say that the subsidies and the countervailing measures agreement under the WTO exist to allow member states to undertake investigations where a claim has been made that that subsidisation has impacted an Australian manufacturer, in this case, and injured that manufacturer materially. So, in that sense, when you look at what the nature of these subsidy programs are, you see that they're almost invariably driven by policy. I'm getting to an answer which says yes, but the way you characterised it I would rather say that there are a set of government policies in country A and a set in country B and even a set in Australia, and each of those has an impact in the way that some sectors of the economy operate.

Senator PATRICK: Have you identified policy changes that are a result of a measure that you've implemented or something that you've done to successfully avoid that injury?

Mr Seymour : Again, that's a good question, because logic would have it that you would probably want to go there and have a look at whether they continue to be effective and, if you were that government, potentially look at what that means. I haven't done any specific analysis of that area. It's a very hard area. We're obliged to write to the government and seek the government's information and their agreement to go in and have a good look at the programs and their impacts. We're very respectful of other governments as nation states and we ensure that we undertake those investigations properly.

Senator PATRICK: Switching slightly: do you monitor the costs of applications and pursuing an antidumping claim? Do you ask industry what the costs are?

Mr Seymour : It's a harsh truth in the trade remedy space that the bigger companies have built their own capability to undertake their analysis of potential impacts of dumping of subsidisation. Smaller industry players have less of an ability to build that capability and, therefore, rely more on the private sector market, the lawyers and consultants, to assist them.

Senator PATRICK: That's actually where I'm going.

Mr Seymour : That is an expensive exercise, and I think the Australian trade remedy system is certainly not one of the most expensive ones, but it isn't the case that it is easy for smaller players to participate fully. Government initiatives, in 2012-13, established the International Trade Remedies Advisory Service. That's part of the department of industry. It's an outreach for small- and medium-sized firms to assist them in that space.

Senator PATRICK: When was that established?

Mr Seymour : I'm thinking it came out of the reforms of 2012-13. It's been around as long as I have.

Senator KIM CARR: What's the average cost?

Senator PATRICK: That's what I was getting to.

Mr Seymour : I don't have that data.

Senator KIM CARR: I heard a figure of nearly $1 million. Would that seem reasonable?

Mr Seymour : I've heard anecdotally that many companies have invested heavily in advice. It is a very complicated exercise, and I think it remains something to think through. How do you genuinely make it easier for SMEs to participate in the system? As manufacturers of goods in their own right, they have every right to make a claim under the system.

Senator PATRICK: In some sense that's why I was asking whether or not you keep a track of it. I'm sure you could ask and they would tell. Perhaps then you could de-identify and track if it's getting more expensive or less expensive and what the real burden is on a company. Respectfully, that's something you ought to know as a provider of a service to someone.

Mr Seymour : Well, can I take that on board and give some consideration to it.

Senator PATRICK: That would be great.

Mr Seymour : That's a fair point that you raise.

Senator PATRICK: Thank you, Commissioner. Thank you, Chair.

Senator KIM CARR: What's happening with the Indonesian paper?

Mr Seymour : There are two cases on paper. Indonesia have lodged a claim against Australia, against the decision to place duties on A4 copy paper from Indonesia, with the WTO. It's the first time there has been an antidumping dispute against us that I'm aware of. That matter has got to the point where the WTO Dispute Settlement Board is considering the establishment of the panel. So they have decided to create a panel and they are now looking at who the three members of that panel would be. They draw up the possible list of candidates to bring panel members together from a variety of sources. They consult with the parties. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade quite rightly are leading on that matter—

Senator KIM CARR: Are they on your side?

Mr Seymour : Absolutely. There is another A4 copy paper investigation as well that we have just initiated.

Senator KIM CARR: What's that one?

Mr Seymour : It's the same product and it's essentially seeking to assess the same range of issues for Slovakia, Austria, Russia and Korea—and Finland. Don't forget the Finns. So that is 10 countries, essentially. It's a very highly commoditised product. It's sold all over the world. The manufacturing processes are what they are. The applicant is Australian Paper from Maryvale.

Senator KIM CARR: Are you able to defend your decisions?

Mr Seymour : Absolutely.

Senator KIM CARR: You're not thinking of changing your mind about any of the decisions with regard to paper?

Mr Seymour : Why would I?

Senator KIM CARR: That's what I want to know.

Mr Seymour : The decisions that I've taken—actually, in this case, the imposition of duties is taken by the minister.

Senator KIM CARR: On your recommendations.

Mr Seymour : Yes. The minister has made those decisions. One exporter has taken that matter to the Federal Court. The matter was also reviewed by the review panel. The rates for the two Indonesian exporters were adjusted slightly, which is quite common as it typically relates to cost items that we either accept or reject and about which others have a different view. That's the system working properly, in my view. Access to review is another principle of the system.

Senator KIM CARR: You are confident that all of that is fine?

Mr Seymour : Absolutely. The Australian government's view. based on the senior officials' position at DFAT, is that they will properly defend the matter at the WTO.

Senator PATRICK: Who are the parties to the litigation in the Federal Court?

Mr Seymour : It's the Chinese exporter UPM.

Senator PATRICK: Is there a government intervener?

Mr Seymour : It's the Australian government's decision.

Senator PATRICK: So you are defending your decision in the Federal Court.

Mr Seymour : The Australian government's decision.

Mr Sexton : There are two Federal Court matters around A4 copy paper, but they have nothing to do with Indonesia. They are two Chinese exporters who have taken issue with the rates that we have established for them.

Senator PATRICK: I was just wondering whether or not an applicant gets dragged into a likely-expensive court matter?

Mr Seymour : No. It's against the decision-maker, which is the Australian government. That's the system in all its colour and glory.

Senator PATRICK: No, that's good.

Senator KIM CARR: I think that, if you're confident and you've got the support of the government—

Mr Lawson : We as the department and the commission have met with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. They have the lead. They are convinced that we will be defending this matter strongly. We believe the commissioner's and the government's decisions are entirely consistent with WTO rules, and the matter will be defended strongly.

Senator KIM CARR: I am pleased to hear it. Thank you very much.

CHAIR: If there are no more questions, we will let the Anti-Dumping Commission go. Thank you very much for appearing this evening.