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Economics References Committee
Future of Australia's steel industry

SEYMOUR, Mr Dale, Anti-Dumping Commissioner, Anti-Dumping Commission

WEIER, Dr Annette, General Manager, Advisory, Anti-Dumping Commission


CHAIR: Thank you for appearing before the committee today. I invite you to make a brief opening statement, should you wish to do so, and then we will open up for questions.

Mr Seymour : I appreciate the opportunity to address the committee as part of its inquiry into the future of Australia's steel industry. Australia's antidumping system provides a way to address material injury to Australian producers from imported goods that are dumped or subsidised.

Dumping occurs when the imported goods are sold to Australia at prices that are lower than the price in the exporter's home market. Subsidisation occurs when imported goods benefit from government assistance in the country of export. The most common subsidies include preferential loans, grants and tax incentives. Australian steel producers have increasingly used the antidumping system in recent years as a result of concerns about the unfair trading practices used by some foreign steel exporters and governments.

The government's most recent antidumping reforms, which were fully implemented in November 2015, made significant improvements to strengthen Australia's antidumping system. The reforms addressed areas such as placing a greater onus on business to cooperate with investigations; introducing more stringent deadlines for submissions; improving the merits review process; and directing me as the commissioner to make a preliminary affirmative determination on day 60 of an investigation, meaning provisional measures can be imposed, or issue a status report providing reasons why a preliminary affirmative determination was not made. The reforms handout explains these in more detail. We have copies for the committee, if that is useful.

The government has provided additional funds to the commission to employ additional investigators and strengthen its market intelligence unit. An additional investigations team was put in place early this year, which coincided with the rollout of a new capability development system to ensure our new staff receive the right training and assistance to deliver quality outcomes for the Australian industry.

The recently established Anti-Dumping Information Service provides targeted economic analysis of trends and trading behaviours across markets to provide better information earlier in the process. The success of this service has been clearly demonstrated by its analysis of the Asian steel and aluminium sectors and the effects they are having on the global and Australian steel and aluminium sectors.

In addition to the additional resources, we are currently implementing the recommendations of an external review of the commission to ensure our processes are timely and effective and continue to deliver quality outcomes. One of the key changes will be the implementation of a new investigations model which will mean investigations can be conducted more efficiently without compromising the quality of the investigation. This will also allow me to make a preliminary affirmative determination earlier in the investigation process, in line with the new ministerial direction, when I believe it is necessary to prevent injury to the Australian industry.

In 2015, the commission experienced the highest level of demand for trade remedy relief in the last decade. This has been driven in part by the relatively high Australian dollar, oversupply in some commodity markets and Australia's adoption of an open system of international trade, as reflected in relatively low levels of import tariffs. In response to significantly increased demand for trade remedies by Australian steel producers, the Anti-Dumping Commission has undertaken a record number of investigations into and applied a record number of antidumping measures against steel imports in recent years.

As an industry group, steel producers are currently the largest users of the system. Australia's two largest steel producers, Arrium Ltd and BlueScope Steel, are the most active users of the system, with a significant portion of their product categories subject to either measures or ongoing investigations. In January this year, Arrium stated that 75 per cent of the volume of its manufacturing product base was now subject to preliminary or final anti-dumping determinations. In the last financial year, 2014-15, I initiated 131 cases.

Senator KIM CARR: One hundred and thirty one?

Mr Seymour : Yes, correct. This financial year, we have initiated 80 cases. Since 2011, the commission and its predecessor have investigated or are currently investigating 60 individual allegations of steel imports being 'dumped' or 'subsidised'. Ten of these cases are ongoing and relate to products such as steel reinforcing bar, rod in coils and grinding balls. As a result of these investigations, there are now 44 anti-dumping measures, including provisional measures, in place on steel products. The measures cover a total of 12 product categories; cover products exported from 14 countries; primarily apply to China, 13, Korea, eight, and Taiwan, six; and primarily apply to products produced by Arrium, 20, and BlueScope, 16.

Given that a significant proportion of Arrium and BlueScope's product ranges have measures applied, there is a need to ensure that anti-dumping measures remain effective. Accordingly, it is likely that an increasing proportion of the commission's work will become focused on the anti-circumvention activity area and inquiries and the monitoring of existing measures. As you might know, circumvention is a trade strategy used by exporters and importers of certain products to avoid the full payment of dumping and countervailing duties. It reduces the effectiveness of the trade remedy in addressing injury to Australian industry. For example, in 2015 I initiated six anti-circumvention inquires relating to steel products. All of these inquiries have been completed and resulted in the goods description of the anti-dumping measure being broadened to prevent exporters avoiding anti-dumping duties by making minor changes to their products.

I would now like to ask Dr Weier to give us a short presentation on the economic analysis of the steel and aluminium sectors, if that pleases the chair.

Dr Weier : On 18 February this year, the minister, Christopher Pyne, asked that the commission undertake an economic analysis of Asian steel and aluminium markets and the impact on the global and Australian markets of behaviour in those Asian markets. The request was made in response to the minister's ongoing concern that distortions in Asian steel and aluminium markets are unfairly damaging the viability and growth of the Australian steel and aluminium sector. The minister asked that the analysis identify trends in dumping and circumvention behaviour in steel and aluminium markets, improve the efficiency of investigations of potential dumping and circumvention, and inform any recommendations on the most effective form of measures where there is evidence of dumping and circumvention. On 4 April, the commissioner informed the minister of the findings of the analysis. In undertaking the analysis—

Senator KIM CARR: Sorry, can you repeat that? The 4th of April?

Dr Weier : The 4th of April—Monday.

Mr Seymour : Last Monday.

Senator KIM CARR: You have already produced the report?

Mr Seymour : Yes, it is with the minister.

Dr Weier : In undertaking the analysis, we consulted with several key stakeholders from Australian industry groups, manufacturers and producers. As the findings are still being considered by the government, I cannot comment any further on that. However, it is generally accepted that the Australian steel industry is experiencing challenging trading conditions and has been impacted by global overcapacity, subdued demand and, until recently, the high Australian dollar. Historically, we have found that weakening economic conditions can lead to an increase in anti-dumping activity, and the commissioner has talked about the number of investigations and measures implemented on steel products. The government has announced that the findings of the analysis will inform the next tranche of anti-dumping policy reforms.

CHAIR: Could we get copies of the statements you have read from?

Mr Seymour : Certainly.

Senator XENOPHON: Thanks for being here. Jurisdictions like the US, the EU, Canada, South Africa, China, Korea et cetera have emergency safeguard investigations conducted by the same bodies that conduct their antidumping assessments. Does the commission have the expertise to do this function—that is, to assess serious injury, rapid increase in imports and the like?

Mr Seymour : As you would know and members of the committee would be aware, the policy jurisdiction for the safeguards agreement in the Australian context sits with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I wanted to make—

Senator XENOPHON: That is not the case in other countries, is it?

Mr Seymour : It varies. In our case it is the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that provides primary and lead advice on the management of Australia's obligations under the safeguard agreement.

Senator XENOPHON: But the Productivity Commission has a role in terms of circumvention safeguards.

Mr Seymour : The Productivity Commission is the prescribed authority under the legislation to administer Australia's interests under the safeguards arrangement.

Senator XENOPHON: But that is fairly unusual compared to other jurisdictions, isn't it? It is practically unique.

Mr Seymour : I am not sure if it is unusual. There are a number of models, some of which you might call integrated models and some of which are separate.

Senator KIM CARR: If it is prescribed under the legislation, to move that responsibility from the Productivity Commission to you would require legislative change?

Mr Seymour : I am probably the wrong person to ask that question of, but I would have thought that, as it is the prescribed authority under this legislation, there may need to be some arrangement put in place in that regard.

Senator XENOPHON: Presumably it would be legislative or regulatory, but it would be subordinate legislation or legislation itself.

Industry has complained to me that many investigations have blown out beyond the minimum statutory time lines. Of the investigations completed in the last 12 months, how many have been completed by the minimum statutory time line and how many have taken longer? I am happy for you to take this on notice. What can the commission do and what is the commission doing to ensure that investigations are completed within that minimum statutory time line?

Mr Seymour : To confirm for the committee: the minimums statutory time available under the legislation is 155 calendar days. As I have said before in Senate estimates hearings and, I think, even in front of this economics committee in answer to a similar question from you, it is rare for us to deliver an outcome in 155 calendar days, and that is because of the increasing complexity of these cases and the increase specifically in the number of cases that require very detailed market analysis. This has in a general sense meant that the average is closer to 270 calendar days, not 155 calendar days.

Senator XENOPHON: How does that compare with other jurisdictions?

Mr Seymour : The one that I always start with—there are many examples we could use—is the US jurisdiction. Unlike the Australian integrated model where we have an antidumping commission that does both the dumping and subsidisation investigation and then the injury and causation test and then, through me, either determines an outcome or provides a recommendation to the minister, the US is bifurcated, which means that the dumping and subsidisation investigation is undertaken by a specialist team within the United States Department of Commerce. The determination of injury causation and outcome is then independently done by the United States International Trade Commission. They are separate bodies. Each of those bodies takes a minimum of about 150 days. To give a comparison against the Australian performance you need to add those two bodies together, and so the generally accepted analysis—at least from my conversations with the US representatives, which are ongoing and frequent—is that they never take less than about a year to provide a solution. So that is a good example of a significant jurisdiction that applies a similar robustness to the way they investigate and determine outcomes.

Senator XENOPHON: One of the recommendations of the Brumby review was that experts from within industry be recruited in order to provide customs and the commission with industry expertise. Of the staff the commission has hired since its establishment, how many have been from the private sector and how many from within the public service?

Mr Seymour : I would need to take that on notice to give you an accurate answer. Observationally, it was very difficult for quite some time to hire into the commission due to my obligation to comply with the whole-of-government hiring policies over the last couple of years. That has now been lifted.

Senator XENOPHON: Does that mean you could not hire from outside?

Mr Seymour : We were in a process where we were managing to an outcome that meant that there was an effective halt or freeze on outside appointments. That actually created an opportunity for me to pick up a number of very knowledgeable and skilled officers of the department of industry in Melbourne—in particular from AusIndustry—many of whom had a background in the private sectors, including the automotive sector and the steel sector. I have the benefit of that skill and knowledge in the Anti-Dumping Commission, but I did not recruit them specifically from the private sector, because I was unable to. But I still was able to glean that capability.

Senator XENOPHON: I am happy for you to take that on notice. I will move on.

Industry has expressed concern to me that in a number of cases dumping duties have been lower or dumping has not been found at all in Australian cases compared to comparable cases in overseas jurisdictions such as the United States, the European Union or Canada. What factors account for the differences in duty levels? I think solar panels are just one example. What can the dumping commission or the parliament do to bring dumping duties in Australian cases in line with duties applicable in comparable overseas cases? I am not asking you to comment on policy. Are there some stricter frameworks in those jurisdictions—the US, EU or Canada—that can account for those quite significant differences in duties that are imposed?

Mr Seymour : Some of the examples you have used are very useful to draw a comparison between the practice undertaken by the Australian Anti-Dumping Commission and, say, the US Department of Commerce or the Canadian customs and border protection authorities. Essentially, the majority of the steel investigations that we do for like products with the Canadians or the US relate to the Chinese market. The US in particular does not recognise China as a market economy and therefore has a different approach to the way it actually gathers and assesses the data compared to the Australian practice.

Senator XENOPHON: Can we pause there? I am happy for you to take the comparison on notice, because it is a broad question, but you raised the issue of the market economy. Representatives of Arrium gave evidence—it was very good to hear from them today given what they are going through—and made a point of saying that New Zealand, Switzerland and Australia are the only three countries in the world that recognise China as a market economy. Does that deeming of China as a market economy give the commission different challenges or make its job different in undertaking its duties by virtue of that market economy status of China?

Mr Seymour : I say as commissioner—and I can say this as an independent officer—that it requires a far more disciplined approach by us.

Senator XENOPHON: So it is tougher. Okay. A number of legislative and regulatory amendments have been made to crack down on the circumvention of dumping duties by importers such as duty absorption and minor modification of goods. What is the commission doing to practically monitor circumvention behaviour? What action can the commission take to ensure Australia's antidumping system is effective and keeping ahead of the latest methods of circumvention? It seems that, as soon as you try to plug one thing, it pops up somewhere else.

Mr Seymour : It is certainly the case the circumvention is an insidious practice. As far as providing an effective trade remedy system in Australia, I am very committed to ensuring that the commission is able to respond very effectively and as early as possible. This practice was one of the motivations behind the establishment of the market intelligence unit within the antidumping information service, a new body in the commission that Dr Weier guides. The motivation in building that capability was to be able to be far more effective in analysing market data and trend analysis, in close cooperation with our colleagues in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, who hold the import databases. I am firmly of the belief that as we build the capability we will be able to be far more proactive in predicting those behaviours. So that is a strategic, proactive management of information and creation of knowledge, to predict those activities. The second area is to be absolutely committed—there is a word I want to use but it would be inappropriate in this environment.

Senator XENOPHON: Go on. You can say anything here.

Mr Seymour : I just think we need to be ruthless in our application of the anti-circumvention provisions, because I find it untenable that once the measures have been put in place there is some commercial incentive to bypass them simply to continue to dump into our markets. So, from an anti-dumping commissioner's perspective I am absolutely committed to my investigators being sufficiently resourced and capable to be able to find those activities out and to complete those investigations as soon as possible—

Senator XENOPHON: Supplementary to that, so it is a question of having the resources to do that? Because I think you have been very clear in what you just said about the need for almost a ruthlessness in terms of compliance and to deal with circumvention. Do you feel that you are hamstrung in your role with the current legislative framework?

Mr Seymour : No, I do not. I think the framework is adequate. I think the amendments that have been made, which have been supported by the parliament, have been done because there is a very clear value proposition behind ensuring that the framework provides for an adequate response. Under the slight modification of goods regulation, I think we have that. It is one of a number of different behaviours that we would group in the circumvention category. We have just completed six anti-circumvention inquiries into the steel sector. If that is not sending a very clear message to circumventers that we are serious about making sure that once our trade measures are put in place we are determined to ensure that they absolutely remedy the injury that they are in place to remedy, then I am not sure what is. If you marry the two up, with the more strategic approach, through better information earlier in the system, and then having a very tough and committed investigations regime, I am confident that we can keep on top of it now. It is easy for me to sit here and say that in a theoretical sense. I cannot predict exactly where the behaviours are going to go. One of the things that you said is that the motivation is to continue to avoid the obligation to pay the duties.

Senator XENOPHON: So you may have to whack them with greater penalties?

Mr Seymour : I think the legislation provides me with the appropriate ability to recommend those anti-circumvention duties to apply, and they have been significant—as high as 60 per cent, which in the Australian model is quite a high number. Following up on the aluminium decision in favour of Capral last year, which I think was 57 per cent, they are significant in the Australian context.

CHAIR: Following on from Senator Xenophon's comment, in listening to the concerns of the industry today, and sensing your frustration with what is happening with anti-circumvention, what can you say to people who might form the view that Australia is a bit of a soft target when it comes to dumping? That seems to be a concern. I note that you have some frustrations there. What do you say to alleviate people's concerns?

Mr Seymour : I would say that my frustrations are not with the policy framework for the legislative arrangements that are in place. I think they are adequate. The frustration is that the way the global market is, and, as Dr Weier explained, the oversupply that has occurred, have meant that we are under a lot of pressure to provide a more than adequate response as quickly as we are able to to stem the impact or the injury suffered by Australian steel and aluminium producers. My frustration is really just in ensuring that I am delivering an effective and efficient service to Australian industry, where we find material injuries being experienced through dumping or subsidisation. As far as I am concerned, that is the only test I am interested in. If that test is met, I want to make sure that the measures absolutely apply, and that they apply effectively, which is why my answers to Senator Xenophon's questions around circumvention are quite absolute. I think that is the least we should be doing.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you very much, Commissioner. Dr Weier, I thought your statements were very helpful. You are telling us that 75 per cent of the volume of Arrium's manufactured product base was subject to preliminary or final antidumping determinations—75 per cent of the company's product. I find that an extraordinary number. Were you surprised by that?

Mr Seymour : It is a volume measure. I am not surprised, because the number of investigations into the steel sector has progressively grown over the past three years that I have been in the role and now represents something in the order of 75 to 80 per cent of all the casework that we undertake, be they preliminary investigations or—

Senator KIM CARR: Let us be clear about that. Is that 75 per cent of your work?

Mr Seymour : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: And 75 per cent of their work is tied up with dumping?

Mr Seymour : Yes. Obviously, any goods that meet the definition under the legislation can be assessed, and we do others, such as solar panels, tomatoes and the like.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, tomatoes and a few other bits and pieces. But it is now becoming the case that the predominant proportion of the commission's work is tied up with the steel industry?

Mr Seymour : Correct.

Senator KIM CARR: I presume that the conclusion you draw from that is that there is a serious problem.

Mr Seymour : There is certainly significant pressure on Australian steelmakers from dumped product from Asian markets. There is absolutely no doubt about that.

Senator KIM CARR: You were saying:

… the commission experienced the highest level of demand for trade remedy relief in the last decade.

That was last year?

Mr Seymour : Correct, yes.

Senator KIM CARR: I take it that that is a reflection of the increasing penetration of dumped product.

Mr Seymour : It is in two areas. One is in applications for either a dumping or a countervailing duty notice, and the countervailing activity set, which is a subsidisation category, is increasing. It is primarily being driven by the steel industry and reflects the nature of policies implemented by other governments, Asian governments in particular. So we are well within our means and rights to look in much more detail into that area, which is a much more complicated investigation; the information base that you work from is much more difficult to penetrate, requiring a whole range of commitments to transparency from other governments in relation to the way they subsidise certain sectors of their economies.

Senator KIM CARR: But it has become apparent that the increased capacity of the Chinese steelmakers has meant that they have a major oversupply—

Mr Seymour : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: and that they are putting that product into markets around the world but in particular into Australia. Do you think we are having a higher level of penetration from Chinese steel producers than from others?

Mr Seymour : I do not have the data in front of me. I am not sure whether Dr Weier would like to comment.

Dr Weier : We have had a close look at the steel industry. We have drawn a lot on OECD research, and they consider global overcapacity to be a major problem. We also looked at trends in antidumping and countervailing applications and measures around the world and we found that it is very common around the world that there is an increasing level, which is—

Senator KIM CARR: Okay. I am trying to get a fix on whether this is a bigger problem for Australia than it is for our competitors. I appreciate the point you have made—there are other countries seeking to dump product here—

Dr Weier : Senator, that is not—

Senator KIM CARR: but is it the case that the Chinese manufacturers are particularly focusing on Australia?

Mr Seymour : What I would like to do is take that on notice. We can go back and have a closer look at some of the information that we have.

Dr Weier : I will just clarify the point that I was trying to make. Other countries have applied an increasing proportion of their measures to steel products, including products from Asian countries.

Senator KIM CARR: I appreciate that it is a difficult question to answer, but it goes to the issue of people's international perception of the rigour of our antidumping measures. It has been put to this committee that Chinese and other producers try to go for the softest touch. Are we regarded as a soft touch by international standards?

Mr Seymour : Is that a question, Senator?

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, it is.

Mr Seymour : Sorry; I thought it might have been rhetorical.

Senator KIM CARR: No, it is not. Do you have any assessment of that?

Mr Seymour : I have to be honest with you: it sort of annoys me to think that we might be considered to be a soft touch, when I think about how hard we work to—

Senator KIM CARR: This is not a comment on you or your diligence. I am just saying: is there an international perception that our regime is weaker and therefore easier to get through than other countries' regimes? That is the point of the question.

Mr Seymour : The answer to that question, to be honest with you, is that I do not know, although I do speak to my counterparts in the US, China, Canada, Korea, Taiwan and the European Commission on a very regular basis, and most of them believe that Australia's antidumping system is a very strong and robust one. Whether firms in those economies believe that we are a soft touch is another matter.

Another way of looking at the same question might be to think about the way that we undertake investigations—recognising China, for example, as a market economy—which means that we are much more disciplined in our approach than some other jurisdictions are, which explains in large part the differential in the outcome in terms of the rate of duties that might be applied. It is not to say that we cannot find the same outcome, but the way that we undertake our test is, in my view, a more disciplined and robust one.

Senator KIM CARR: Arrium has made a submission to this inquiry suggesting a whole range of measures that need to be strengthened in the antidumping regime, as have a number of other people. Have you done any assessment of those additional measures that are being proposed?

Mr Seymour : Yes. The first thing I would say is that obviously, as they might relate to policy matters, that is a matter for the government. In terms of the report that we referred to earlier, we have received those suggestions. We speak to them all the time, and none of what they have said to me over the last couple of months has been of any surprise. All of that information has been analysed and passed on.

Senator KIM CARR: So we can have a look at your assessment once that report that has been to the minister is finally released?

Mr Seymour : Yes. But I can say as an independent officer that my view, purely from an operational perspective, is that I have no great difficulty in the majority of what they have been suggesting. Most of it is what I would call operational enhancement.

Senator KIM CARR: You have no difficulty?

Mr Seymour : No, I am quite relaxed about most of the suggestions to further strengthen the system. Most of it is related to a better application of my current authorities under the legislation. Most of it does not require significant strategic policy consideration or enhancement through legislation.

Senator KIM CARR: I would be interested if there are any of the proposals that we have before us that you think would not be a sensible approach to take, because it may well be that the committee chooses to recommend those matters. So, if there is a technical reason—or a policy reason, for that matter, as well—that you think proposals put by Arrium or others are faulty, I think it would be important that you tell us.

Mr Seymour : There are some nuanced differences—

Senator KIM CARR: Yes.

Mr Seymour : but they are very much in that category.

Senator KIM CARR: The Steel Institute recommends in its submission removing the ability of the minister to utilise the lesser duty rule, and it includes a shorter man-day timetable for anticircumvention inquiries. What do you think about that?

Mr Seymour : The application of the lesser duty rule is probably in the strategic policy category, so I would rather that that be dealt with—

Senator KIM CARR: We will wait for the report on that, because presumably you have commented on it.

Mr Seymour : Indeed, yes.

Senator KIM CARR: What about giving the Anti-Dumping Commission powers to self-initiate investigations?

Mr Seymour : The power to self-initiate exists now, and the ability to do so is based on information that we would consider meets the standard.

Senator KIM CARR: Have you ever used it?

Mr Seymour : No.

Senator KIM CARR: Could you conceive of a circumstance where you would feel the need to use it?

Mr Seymour : I think that, if you go with me on the strategic intention behind the Anti-Dumping Information Service, which I have been explaining now for a number of years, the ability to get better information about these market behaviours earlier would suggest that, in a more proactive way, Dr Weier and her team could come to me and say: 'We've done this analysis. We've tested these models. We think there is an activity over here that Australian industry may not be aware of yet, and we think there might be a ground for a much more proactive response by the Anti-Dumping Commissioner'—which may include a self-initiation or going to the minister with that recommendation.

Senator KIM CARR: What about the idea of third-party-initiated inquiries? That is not in the steel industry, but it has been put to us in other quarters. Do you have a view on that matter?

Mr Seymour : In the American model, organised labour can make a submission to the Department of Commerce, and they can also make submissions, as I understand it, to the ITC in a sort of reverse sense. It is an interesting area to consider. Of course, it is not so much who makes applications, but whether they have the requisite information. They will have to meet the same standard that I would need to meet in initiating an inquiry.

Senator KIM CARR: But you have no particular problem with that?

Mr Seymour : I just think it is an interesting area for further consideration, third-party application.

Senator KIM CARR: On the question of providing more data, there has been a recommendation for a review of whether more trade data can be released by the ABS. That is the recommendation of the Steel Institute. What do you think of that?

Mr Seymour : As commissioner, my view is that the more information made available the better it is, assuming there are some boundaries placed around the commercial-in-confidence and other data.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes, and of course there are financial restrictions on what you can physically do. I appreciate that. But, in principle, you do not have any objection to it.

Mr Seymour : I think if Australian manufacturing is being damaged materially or injured materially by dumped or subsidised goods, then it ought to know about it.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes. An anti-dumping information service has been proposed by the Steel Institute. Do you think there is a need for that?

Mr Seymour : We have one. It is only new, but it is emerging.

Senator KIM CARR: All right. I want to turn to the propositions around the Trade Remedies Forum. It has been suggested that there have not been too many meetings of the Trade Remedies Forum—in fact, that has been stated explicitly—and at the last one where steel was discussed there was a proposal to investigate attempts by the Chinese and the use of their particular product. Do you think there is any value in having a communique at the next high-level dialogue, similar to COAG ministerial communiques, on the situation of the trade steel dumping?

Mr Seymour : Just so I am clear on the question, I think you are referring to the high-level dialogue that is conducted between Australia and China.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes.

Mr Seymour : That dialogue is administered, and I believe the management of that dialogue from the Australian end is led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It would be a matter for them to consider what communiques or activities might come out. I am but a participant in that process.

Senator KIM CARR: But if it is a DFAT matter, we could be waiting a while. With regard to the manual that you use, there has been some advice provided to the committee that there might be a need to rewrite your manual for your investigators. Are you aware of this?

Mr Seymour : It is an interesting point. The manual is really the practice manual, which I describe as the doctrine of investigation standards. This model that we work in with trade remedy has the WTO agreements as the standard bearers of the framework on obligations internationally, and then a fairly interesting piece of legislation within the Customs Act—part XVB—that gives the minister or me the power to do things or not do things, and what those standards are. The manual is a way of describing in practical terms how that all works, and so it would be disingenuous of me to say that the manual is not in need of ongoing enhancement, because of the reforming nature of the anti-dumping system is requiring an ongoing maintenance of that manual.

Senator KIM CARR: Okay, Mr Commissioner, what are you doing about that? You have acknowledged the need for it, so what is happening?

Mr Seymour : I am currently giving active consideration to further enhancement of the manual. I am not sure what area you are talking about specifically.

CHAIR: Commissioner Seymour, could I just check that you are happy for the document that you gave us—page 3 of 17 to page 6 of 17—to be tabled as part of this inquiry?

Mr Seymour : Yes.

CHAIR: Thank you very much.

Senator KIM CARR: And there is this other one, 'Reforms of the anti-dumping system', which is an attachment—is that right?

Mr Seymour : That is the handout.

Senator KIM CARR: Headed 'Reforms of the anti-dumping system'?

Mr Seymour : That is the handout, yes. We brought that for you too.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you. I just wanted to clear up the use of the material.

CHAIR: Thank you very much to both of you for appearing before us today. Thank you to all the witnesses who have appeared, to broadcasting and to the secretariat.

Committee adjourned at 16:59