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Thursday, 27 April 1961

F.   That, in this Proposal, unless the contrary intention appears - " export price ", in relation to goods that have been or are being exported to Australia, mean -

(a)   an amount, expressed in Australian currency, that is equal to the price paid or payable to the exporter, or an agent in Australia of the exporter, for the goods (including free on board charges in the country of export); or

(b)   if the Minister is of opinion that adequate information as to the price so paid or payable cannot be obtained - an amount, expressed in Australian currency, that is equal to the price estimated by the Minister to be the price so paid or payable; "the Gazette" mean the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette; " the Minister " mean the Minister of State for the time being administering the Act passed to give effect to this Proposal; " the normal value ", in relation to goods that have been or are being exported to Australia, mean whichever of the following amounts, as ascertained by the Minister, expressed in Australian currency, is determined by the Minister to be the normal value of those goods -

(a)   an amount equal to the fair market value of like goods sold in the country of export for home consumption in the ordinary course of trade plus free on board charges paid or payable in that country in respect of the goods, but not including any duties or other taxes paid or payable in that country in respect of the goods, being duties or taxes that are remitted or refunded on export;

(b)   an amount equal to the highest comparable price paid for like goods sold in the country of export for export to a third country in the ordinary course of trade plus free on board charges paid or payable in the country of export in respect of the goods, but not including any duties or other taxes paid or payable in the country of export in respect of the goods, being duties or taxes that are remitted or refunded on export;

(c)   an amount equal to the fair market value of like goods produced or manufactured, and sold, in a third country selected by the Minister, being a country in which, in the opinion of the Minister, the costs of production or manufacture are similar to those in the country of export, in the ordinary course of trade for home consumption in that third country plus such amount as is estimated by the Minister to be the cost of placing the goods free on board in the country of export, but not including any duties or other taxes paid or payable in the third country in respect of the goods, being duties or taxes that are remitted or refunded on export; or

(d)   an amount equal to the sum of -

(i)   the cost of production or manufacture of the goods or, if the Minister is of opinion that adequate information as to the cost of production or manufacture of the goods cannot be obtained, such amount as is estimated by the Minister to be the cost of production or manufacture of the goods;

(ii)   free on board charges paid or payable in the country of export in respect of the goods; and

(iii)   such additional amount in respect of selling costs and profit as is determined by the Minister; "the Tariff Board" mean the Tariff Board established under the Tariff Board Act 1921-1960. G. That, in this Proposal -

(a)   a reference to an inquiry by the Tariff Board be read as including a reference to such an inquiry held or commenced to be held before the coming into operation of the Act passed to give effect to this Proposal; and

(b)   a reference to a report by the Tariff Board be read as including a reference to a report made upon such an inquiry.

The purpose of the measure which I have just moved is to impose certain special duties of customs to provide protection for Australian industry against various forms of unfair trading. It also covers emergency action which may be taken against imports which cause or threaten serious injury to domestic producers or to producers in certain third countries. As this is a financial measure, it must be introduced into the House as proposals, in accordance with the Standing Orders. The measure will come into force on the date on which the act passed to give effect to the proposals receives the royal assent.

It is proposed that the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act be repealed. The proposals incorporate those parts of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act which are in current use and in addition make provision for some additional measures of protection against unfair trading. Their provisions incorporate the means of dealing with dumping and subsidies which have been internationally agreed in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. They also take account of comments which have been made by the Tariff Board on problems arising from the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act.

The proposals provide for a dumping duty on goods that are exported to Australia at an export price which is less than the normal value of the goods, where this causes or threatens injury to an Australian industry or may hinder the establishment of an Australian industry. The imposition of dumping duties will continue to be subject to inquiry and report by the Tariff Board.

A reference to injury to an Australian industry is not to be read as including a reference to an insubstantial injury and a reference to the hindering of the establishment of an Australian industry does not include a reference to an insubstantial hindrance to the establishment of such an industry.

The intention of the proposals is to introduce dumping legislation which is consistent with Article VI. of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which lays down internationally accepted criteria for the imposition of dumping duties. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade states that dumping, by which products of one country are introduced into the commerce of another country at less than the normal value of the products, is to be condemned if it causes or threatens material injury to an established industry or materially retards the establishment of a domestic industry. The Government would have preferred to introduce these criteria in the words in which they are expressed in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but our legal advisers have pointed out that this could have given rise to problems of legal interpretation. The measure is therefore framed in such a way as to provide for the application of the criteria laid down in

Article VI. of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but avoids possible difficulties of legal interpretation which might have been met by using the exact wording of the article.

The provision relating to dumping duty covers the types of cases which are now dealt with under sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act - that is, goods sold to Australia at less than their fair market value, goods sold to Australia at less than cost of production plus a reasonable mark-up and goods consigned for sale in Australia which may be sold at less than a reasonable price. It is, however, broader in scope than these three sections of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act in that it empowers the imposition of dumping duties not only where injury to an Australian industry is caused or threatened hut also where the establishment of an Australian industry may be hindered. It is also broader in that " normal value " of goods exported to Australia is defined more comprehensively than is done in the two definitions in section 4 and 5 of the existing act which deal with fair market value and cost of production only. In establishing a fair price, the Minister may take account not only of these factors, but of the price of like goods sold in the country of export for export to a third country and also of the fair market value of like goods produced in a third country where costs of production are similar to those in the country of export.

These are the tests which are recognized in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade as representing proper means of establishing the normal value of goods entering into international trade; in addition, they provide a means of establishing the normal value of goods in cases where the fair market value or cost of production cannot be readily ascertained.

The proposals make provision, as does the present act, for imposing dumping duties to protect the trade of third countries against unfair trade practices. The provisions of section 11b< of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act relating to the imposition of countervailing duties on imported subsidized goods are reproduced in this proposal. The countervailing duty provision covers not only subsidies on imported goods but also subsidized freight rates. The sections of the present act which relate specifically to subsidized freights are therefore being omitted.

The proposals also reproduce the provisions of section 11a of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act which permits the imposition of emergency duties, in accordance with Australia's international obligations, to prevent serious injury to an industry.

The sections of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act which relate to depreciation of currencies have not been brought forward in these proposals. Protection against exchange depreciation is available through other channels. Most countries have accepted obligations under the International Monetary Fund which prevent the occurrence of situations of the type which sections 8 to 1 1 of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act were designed to counter. Moreover there is provision in the Customs Act for the Minister for Customs and Excise to fix a fair rate of exchange in respect of imported goods and there is also provision both in the Customs Act and in these proposals to deal with manipulation of exchange rates through the use of multiple currency practices. I might mention that sections 8 to H of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act have not been invoked since the nineteen twenties.

I commend the proposals to honorable members.

Progress reported.







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