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Import policy for 1975

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PRESS STATEMENT N0.( 403 9 December 1974


The Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, announced today a program of action for 1975 aimed at reducing current pressures from import competition on employment in certain industries.

The Prime Minister said this action followed a recent review of import trends undertaken by himself, the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Cairns, and the Minister for Manufacturing . Industry, Mr Enderby.

The Prime Minister said it was clear that high levels of imports were contributing to problems of unemployment in those industries sensitive to import competition. It was important that manufacturers and importers who were planning their activities for

1975 be aware of the Government's concern with recent trends, and the Government's intentions in relation to imports during 1975.

The Prime Minister went on to say that the program of action decided upon would be based on a selective review of those industries with demonstrable import problems. The review would be undertaken through the machinery and procedures, provided under the Industries Assistance Commission Act. A program of references would be sent to the Temporary Assistance Authority and the Textiles Authority during the next month. This would ensure that reports would be received and action taken

by February.

The Government was determined to use to the full the system and the machinery it had created to deal with such problems. The integrity of the system would be maintained.

The Prime Minister said that, consistent with the provisions establishing the Temporary Assistance Authority, new appointments would be made to the Temporary Assistance Authority to enable it to undertake enquiries promptly. In addition, the Department of Manufacturing Industry had been instructed to provide full assistance to manufacturers to help them prepare

cases for consideration for references to the Temporary Assistance Authority.

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This programme of action involves an examination of the major

industries being affected by a high level of imports„ The

Government will initiate appropriate action on these industries

within a few weeks, with full regard to the short term need to

maintain employment in these industries» The Prime Minister

stressed that the more prompt and specific an application for a

reference was, the more quickly appropriate action to safeguard

employment could be taken.

The Prime Minister pointed out that should the need for urgent

action emerge from these inquiries, goods ordered overseas but not

cleared for home consumption at the date of announcement of any

action would be subject to the terms of the action. Importers should

therefore exercise caution in placing orders overseas and in

entering into financial commitments on such orders as special

consideration may not be given to outstanding commitments should

action be taken by the Government0

Motor Vehicles , .

' · I '

As part of the new policy for the motor vehicles industry

an nounced by the Government last m o n t h , the tariff on

passenger motor vehicles was immediately raised as short term

action, with the object of limiting imports of completely built

up v ehicles to a level no higher than 20 per cent of the

local market. .

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Textiles,Clothing and Footwear

Effective action against imports had already been taken in

relation to a significant part of the textiles,clothing and

footwear industries and further action was now being taken as

part of the program of action.

Import licensing controls had been applied to footwear in

October, following an inquiry and recommendations by the Temporary

Assistance Authorityo i

In clothing, the Government had in recent months negotiated

voluntary restraints on exports of certain knitwear and woven

apparel from Hong Kong, India, People's Republic of China and the

Republic of Korea. Import licensing controls had been applied

to imports of the knitwear goods concerned from Taiwan. These

arrangements generally applied to imports to 30 June 1975.

A review of the arrangements would be made early in 1975 to

determine as soon as possible the arrangements to apply from

1 July 1975.

Tariff quota arrangements had been announced on 3 December for

imports of acrylic apparel yarns, knitted man-made fibre fabrics

and towelso This action followed an inquiry and report by the

Textiles Authority within the lAC.

As a result of decisions taken today on IAC reports before the

Government, tariff quota arrangements were also to be applied

immediately to imports of -. polyamide and polyester yarns . woven man-made fibre fabrics . foundation garments

Details of these decisions would be announced separately by

the Minister for Manufacturing Industry.

There were currently references with the Textiles Authority

on the balance of the apparel industry for report by the end of

December and January 1975 and further references were being

considered in relation to cotton fabrics and piece goods.

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A reference had been sent to the Textiles Authority in the

last few days on the carpet industry a nd the report on that

industry was expected about the end of January 1975.

In addition, over $1.5 million have been approved as grants to a

number of textile firms affected by import competition» These

grants were made under the Special Assistance for Non-Metropolitan

Areas (S A N M A ) Scheme. Further applications from textile firms for

assistance under this scheme were being given urgent attention.

Domestic Appliances and Electronics

The Prime Minister said that the Government had been informed

that the domestic appliance industry was in the final stages of

preparing a documented case on the problems of import competition

which it was fading as the basis for an application for.additional

short term assistance. Submission of this application was expected

in the next few days. The application would be given urgent

consideration by Dep art me nt s. -

In relation to consumer electronic p r o d u c t s , no application had

been made for additional assistance, although this had been

foreshadowed by some companies in the industry. The Prime Minister

invited the industry to prepare and submit a documented case ‘

concerning import competition. Departments would consider urgently

any application submitted for a reference to the Temporary

Assistance Authority.

Other Industries

References were sent last week to the Temporary Assistance

Authority on injection moulding machines and t y r e s . Iii the area of

glass, tariff preferences for imports of flat glass from developing

countries have been removed and the Government will be announcing

decisions on the I A C 's glass and glasswear report early in the ·

New Tear. Sectors of the forest p ro d u c t s , furniture and ceramics

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industries have foreshadowed making applications for short-term

assistance. In relation to printed books which are assisted by

way of bounty rather than tariff or quantitative restrictions,

the Government is currently considering representations for a wider

coverage of bounty0 · '

Other Measures

In the field of exchange rates the Government took action in

September to devalue the Australian dollar by 12 per cent. This

significantly improved the competitive position of Australian

industry on both domestic and export markets.

The Prime Minister said that the Department of Customs and Excise

had been directed to expedite action regarding applications for

anti-dumping action and to give more attention to the likelihood

of injury to Australian industry from dumping.

Similarly, in relation .to by-law policy, the Minister for Customs

and Excise had already announced that this policy would be

interpreted to ensure that local manufacturers were not disadvantage·

vis-a-vis imports. A careful watch would be kept on the

application of by-law policy during 1975.

The Prime Minister concluded by saying that the Government would

ensure that the community had a reasonable choice between imports:

and local manufacture. However, there was a need for a

careful balance to ensure that employment opportunities were not

disrupted. The Government would ensure that during 1975 the most

appropriate balance was achieved between imports and local