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Economics Legislation Committee
Anti-Dumping Commission

Anti-Dumping Commission


CHAIR: Welcome, Mr Seymour and team. I'm sorry we kept you waiting a little while.

Mr Seymour : That's all right.

CHAIR: I'm going to kick off with some questions that I'm asking on behalf of Senator Stoker, who has had to duck out and go to another meeting. She has asked me to ask you specifically how the commission is operating now in a way that continues to support Australian industry to ensure that there's a level playing field in supporting our domestic businesses and growth and employment.

Mr Seymour : Thank you, Chair. In the time that the Anti-Dumping Commission has been in operation, which is now some 5½ years, we have established what I would consider to be a competent trade remedy investigating authority for Australia. I say that in the context of there being many trade remedy authorities globally, so we are one of many. In the many interactions I have with my counterparts around the world in relation to the standards that we all apply for antidumping and subsidy investigations under the WTO rules, I am often reminded of how far we've come and that we are, in my view, one of the most efficient and effective trade remedy authorities among the developed economies.


The best example of that is: there are two tests. The first is the quality of the work that we do in the Australian system. As senators might know, there are both merits review and judicial review for the decisions that I take or that I recommend to the minister, and our ability to withstand that type of external review and have either my decision or the minister's decision upheld through those review processes is very high. So, I am extremely pleased with that record.

The other test is the timeliness of the cases that we conduct. I'd say from the outset—and I've said this before—in their wisdom, those who decided to amend the legislation back in the nineties gave us the shortest time possible under the WTO to complete an investigation, which is 155 calendar days. As the commissioner, I'd make the observation as an independent officer: that is a very challenging task. It's a challenging task for two reasons. The first is that, increasingly, international trade has become much more complex. It's probably always been complex; however, it appears to me, in the time I've been in the role, which is 5½ years, that it's become even more complex now than it was in 2013. It means that we have to be up to the task of being able to gather the data properly, effectively, both domestically and internationally, and also analyse that data properly based on the facts to the law. This is proving to be a challenge, given the trade and economic development policies of many governments around the world.

In recent times, we've seen a significant level of disruption internationally in the trading environment and that has posed some challenges to us in terms of our ability to manage both the expectation of our stakeholders in Australia—which are, as I like to say, companies that actually make things in Australia and employ Australians in doing so—and also satisfy our obligations internationally to the WTO and manage what are often very nuanced relationships with other governments. That's become an extremely important part of our business.

So, I think the average time to complete a complex case has come down some 30 or 35 per cent since the time I started and is now around—

CHAIR: So, 30 to 35 per cent in five years?

Mr Seymour : Yes. I would say around the 250-day mark, give or take a week or two—these are calendar days that I'm referring not; they're not working days. I got my people in Canberra this morning to do a bit of a back-of-the-envelope calculation as to: if you strip out public holidays and weekends, how many effective working days do you have to complete a case in 155 days? It's down around 140 days. That's not a long time. The equivalent jurisdiction in the US, the European Union or Canada is always in excess of 365 days. So, when you look at the performance overall in relation to our counterparts, I think we're doing quite well. I think it's a tribute to the quality, commitment and professionalism of the staff in the Anti-Dumping Commission in Canberra and Melbourne, and they do a wonderful job.

CHAIR: Can I just clarify: the time frames you work within, are they imposed upon you or are you always striving to make them shorter or better? Tell me how they're set—the WTO sets them?

Mr Seymour : That's a good question. Some of the time frames are stipulated in the WTO. In terms of the expectation that cases be done as quickly as possible, the Customs Act 15(b) stipulates the time frames for the management of cases in the Australian context. That's where the 155-day calendar day time line comes from, and there are components within that 155 days when I have to publish reports and get reports out to industry or to affected parties for comment.

I often say that, of all the things I may have done in the public sector over my career, this is one of the most transparent and consultative processes I've ever been involved in. You would literally have to be not wanting to pay attention if you were an affected party not to know which way we were going, because we provide more than a couple of opportunities to affected parties to comment on whether or not they believe we've got it right.

CHAIR: What support, in terms of policy, additional funding or operational reforms, have you had put in place to strengthen the system within which your agency works?

Mr Seymour : In the last five years, there has been a continuous process of reform in terms of commitments by government to maintain an effective anti-dumping regime, and I have been pleased that ministers that I have reported to have all shared that view and made that view quite obvious—in particular, the commitment to ensuring that there is a level playing field in Australia and that unfair international trade does not injure domestic Australian manufacturers of goods. That is at policy level.

At the practice level, which is my domain, we have gone through a major reform of our business model. We've essentially tipped it on its head and come out the other end with what we refer to as a new investigations regime. This regime adopts a much more collaborative approach internally to ensure that complex matters are properly ventilated very early on in the case, to ensure that, if we require more specialist legal accounting or policy advice, we are able to do that early on in the process and not lose valuable time, given that we are run under this statutory time line regime. That process is the reason that we have been able to bring down these time line by that 30 per cent to 35 per cent over that period.

The policy and operational support provided by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has been excellent. There is a very clear understanding between the policy lead and the practice lead—so the department and the commission—to ensure that we are properly pursuing the policy objectives as determined by the legislation. It has taken us a little bit of time. It was difficult in the first 18 months to affect those reforms. It required some pretty significant decisions on my part to change the way we operated. But 5½ years down the track, I think we are now a genuinely competent trade remedy investigating authority.

Senator PATRICK: I was hearing a lot of self-promotion there, Commissioner. It is always hard to work out how you compare things. I presume your US counterparts have an equivalent number of staff per application and all those sorts of things. How do you compare in terms of your staff numbers and the applications that are made that you have to process?

Mr Seymour : I may have to come back to you with some data. There is some data available on that. The US system is somewhat different to the Australian system. The Australian system is wholly integrated. So both the assessment of injury dumping on the Australian manufacturer and the effect of the subsidy on the Australian manufacturer is all done with the Anti-Dumping Commission. In the US model, it is bifurcated. The International Trade Administration of the Department of Commerce does the dumping and subsidy analysis, but the injury and causation test is done separately by the International Trade Commission. Each of those organisations has substantial resources.

Senator PATRICK: It is just that you them up as a comparison to you. I certainly support the work you do; I just wanted—

Mr Seymour : That's a fair comment. I was specifically referring to the time lines.

Senator PATRICK: But they will of course be dependent on the resources you have and the applications.

Mr Seymour : Yes.

Senator PATRICK: They might have eight times the number of applications and only four times the staff.

Mr Seymour : And they most definitely have many more applications. They and India are the top of the league ladder in terms of initiations of cases for dumping and countervailing.

Senator PATRICK: Thank you.

Senator KIM CARR: Can I go through a few propositions with you, Commissioner? You made some points in the last round with regard to the question of trade diversion. You said that you are looking at the issue of trade data and that your interpretations of it—perhaps I should quote you directly so I get it right. You said:

What I'm prepared to say is that there are some discussions going on with certain industry sector players in relation to their interpretation of trade data that they have access to that may cause them concern. I'm talking with them about my understanding of trade flows for those particular products to see whether I believe, as the commissioner, that there might be a concern that the Commonwealth may wish to respond to.

I don't want you to necessarily get into particular company areas, but when I look at section 232 for steel and aluminium tariffs, you said that no discernible impact on the Australian market was expected. Do you still maintain that view?

Mr Seymour : Thank you for the question, Senator. I agree with you that it would be inappropriate to make specific reference to companies, but I can confirm that I have, as recently as in the last couple of weeks, met with a number of commercial concerns in Australia who remain concerned about the potential for diversion of steel products into Australia as a result of the 232 action. What I have done is create a capability in the commission to properly monitor trade players for products entering Australia that are subject to measures. This capability now allows me and members of the commission to take a more strategic view about what the data is telling us, and—not that it has happened to date—if I were so concerned, I would raise that with counterparts in the Commonwealth relation to what responses the Commonwealth might wish to make to those concerns.

Senator KIM CARR: I want to go to it because, obviously, people are talking to me about these things, and I can tell you it's a bit more than just concern. We know, for instance, Turkey, which is a big producer, is now subject to tariffs both from the US under the 232 order and under the European Union safeguard measures. Have we seen any increase in their activity here?

Mr Seymour : The data we have collected in relation to the sale of rebar from Turkey and its importation into Australia suggests there has been an uptick in volumes. It's not my role to offer an opinion in relation to aspects of the trade remedy system that I don't have responsibility for, so I will refrain from doing so. I would wish to reassure the senator, however, that I have encouraged a number of commercial concerns in Australia that if they feel that that data supports a particular response by the Commonwealth that is outside of my control, I would refer them to the appropriate agencies further action. I am not aware of what they have done in that regard.

Senator KIM CARR: You're saying you are keeping a close eye on it. Turkey is clearly an example where we have seen some increase. What about Russia or India? Would you say that those two countries would follow a similar pattern?

Mr Seymour : At this stage I would say we are keeping a very close eye on all of those producers of rebar who may be affected by the 232 action from the US to ensure that, as I say, if we feel that that data is supporting a potential action, that is taken up by the appropriate Commonwealth agency. What I can talk to is that I have initiated a case—a review—on rebar from Turkey under dumping provisions of the Customs Act. That case is currently underway. I am pleased with the progression of that case. My investigating teams have just returned from Turkey in the past week. That case is proceeding, and there is a preliminary decision in place requiring security to be taken against rebar from Turkey while I finalise that particular case.

Senator KIM CARR:   You've got information, and I presume other agencies have information. It is a question of whether or not there is any coordination across government. Is there any capacity for you to recommend trade remedy action yourself?

Mr Seymour:   Outside of the provisions of section 15B of the Customs Act, the answer would be no.

Senator KIM CARR:   Who in government is responsible for that particular function?

Mr Seymour:   Currently, as I think you would know, Senator, there are three agreements of the World Trade Organization that are broadly described as trade remedies. There is the anti-dumping agreement, and the subsidies and countervailing measures agreement. Both of those are administered by the Anti-Dumping Commission under the provisions of the Customs Act. The third is the safeguards agreement, administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the investigating functions under that agreement undertaken by the prescribed authority, which is the Productivity Commission.

Senator KIM CARR:   Yes, and my position is to have that function transferred. I think there might well be a different approach in terms of rigour on that matter in a different location; I trust that's the case. Certainly that is the policy intent. On the question of public access to information, the trade remedies index, you have told me in written answers to questions that you're working with other agencies, including Home Affairs and AB S , to determine if a version of the index can be made publicly available. Does that still remain the case?

Mr Seymour:   Yes. We've made some progress in that area, and I am pleased to report that I am quite confident that a number of those agencies will come to an agreement with us in relation to what information might be released publicly. This is actually a very sensitive area, because in the Australian manufacturing sector there are relatively few operations producing most of the output, and it's important that we're not releasing information that is commercially sensitive and allows competitors—

Senator KIM CARR:   Yes, it could undermine our capability.

Mr Seymour:   to undermine our capability. But I'm confident that a version of my trade index, which is essentially the aggregation of my trade-flow monitoring that I referred to earlier across all products under measures, will ultimately be able to be released. The International Trade Remedies Forum is the forum I've been using to have those discussions, and I am very pleased with the progress that has been made with the ABS and with Home Affairs.

Senator KIM CARR:   Commissioner, when would you expect some conclusion to your deliberations on that matter?

Mr Seymour:   I'd say it would be in the coming months. I'm feeling quite confident that I will be able to progress that matter.

Senator KIM CARR:   Can I ask you specifically about some matters that go to revenue. I have been led to believe the Australian Border Force Good compliance update suggests that last year, when they examined $27 million worth of goods subject to antidumping duties, they detected duty underpayments or avoidance in approximately 46 per cent of lines analysed, culminating in a duty underpayment of approximately $4.8 million. Would you agree with that analysis?

Mr Seymour:   I'm aware of that analysis. The totality of the customs system is significantly larger than just the trade remedies aspects, obviously. We have extremely good working relationships with Customs, or ABF, given that we came out of that business, if you like. We work very close with them on anticircumvention inquiries. We regularly communicate with them in relation to compliance and enforcement. We have a subcommittee established under the International Trade Remedies Forum. The work they do in detecting underpayments and fraud, which is duty evasion, which could be considered to be fraud, I think is progressing very well. I think the key for the Anti-Dumping Commission is to continue to work cooperatively with them around how we can drive to a higher standard on compliance and enforcement more broadly. Certainly stakeholders are of the view that they would expect us to be doing that, and I would agree with that.

Senator KIM CARR:   In another one of your answers you say you are concerned about the duty avoidance, and remain committed to ensure to ensuring the trade remed ies system is strong and robust and that the legislative framework achieves its objectives. While the ABF is the lead agency for ensuring compliance, do you think there is anything more that we can do to ensure that we collect the duties that are owed?

Mr Seymour:   There are obviously some clear responsibilities that sit currently with the ABF in that regard, and they take the lead. They are fit for purpose in that respect. The Anti-Dumping Commission now have, and have had for four years, the ability to conduct our own anticircumvention inquiries. We have done quite a few of those now. Where we find that businesses are circumventing in relation to duties, be they dumping or subsidy duties, we have the ability to alter the notice and provide further remedy to ensure that they cease that activity. And in some of those cases we work closely with reference to ABF to ensure that the case may be followed up as a fraud matter. It's difficult for me to say much more than that. I provide, through the International Trade Remedies Forum, a facility to ensure that industry in Australia has the ability to come to government and raise those concerns. Once those concerns are raised, we always ensure that those matters go to the appropriate authority for follow-up.

Senator KIM CARR:   Clearly it's a very important function.

Mr Seymour:   The Anti-Dumping Commission is not resourced to undertake a large compliance suite of activities. It's not really something that we have done.

Senator KIM CARR:   I see what you're saying, but what seems to be the implication of the proposition you're putting is that we have a total duty collected in 2017-18 of $70.3 million: $60.6 million on dumping and $10.6 million on countervailing duties. That is a customs value on goods of $1.03 billion. That's on the operating systems data provided by the B order Force. That implies that the post-transaction verificati on activity which was analysed—a just $27 million of that— picked up 2.7 per cent, which is of course only seven per cent of the revenue. Is that level of abuse, avoidance, of concern to you?

Mr Seymour:   As the commissioner I would like to see 100 per cent compliance with all duty obligations for those who are transacting business into Australia. There is a great deal of detail that we go into in this area. I am quite happy to ask one of my general managers, Nathan Zhivov, to go into that detail. I'm not sure whether you would wish to do that.

Senator KIM CARR:   I don't know how much time we've got, but I want a sense of how big the avoidance question is, because there are clearly quite significant revenue implications. If we are short of money in a whole range of areas, this is a legitimate issue in terms of people avoiding their financial obligations.

Mr Lawson:   I think it is the responsibility of Border Force to do the compliance.

Senator KIM CARR:   It might be, but we have an agency here that has identified quite a serious problem.

Mr Lawson:   I accept that they can tell us about setting the criteria that we need to do, but in terms of working out what compliance should or shouldn't be done, it is the responsibility of Border Force.

Senator KIM CARR:   I accept that. I want to establish whether or not my rationale is right when it comes to this, and you are expert in that field.

Mr Zhivov:   We've checked with Border Force on the c omparability of the two figures. That includes the 46 per cent of lines analysed on $27.3 million of goods . We've also checked on the 6.84 figure across the entirety of their compliance activities. What Border Force communicated to us was that one should be very cautious in comparing those two numbers, as they come from different programs. The 46 per cent of lines analysed, we're advised, comes from a program based on risk based intelligence where, in effect, Border Force is looking for something specific and they're expecting to find some form of noncompliance. Whereas the 6.84 per cent figure comes from what is effectively rolling visits to warehouses and depots as part of their general compliance program. So their information to us was that we should be quite careful about comparing those two numbers.

Senator KIM CARR: So do you have any sense of the non-compliance rate?

Mr Zhivov : I would have to take that on notice and we might have to refer it to Border Force.

Senator KIM CARR: Thank you. If you would, please. You may want to think that through—in terms of the customs value on that $1 billion, how much of the goods were subject to the lesser duty rate? I presume that will be a matter you will take on notice as well. Is that right?

Mr Zhivov : Yes.

Senator KIM CARR: The paper dumping—what's the situation in regard to—we had an investigation in regard to paper coming in from Austria, Finland, Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic. That was an investigation which, I understand, commenced on 19 March 2018. The recommendations are now anticipated in the report due on 28 March 2019. That is significantly above the 155-day rule that you have mentioned, Commissioner?

Mr Seymour : Yes. I agree.

Senator KIM CARR: What's happening?

Mr Seymour : We have almost completed that investigation. The final report is due with the minister by 15 March.

Senator KIM CARR: Yes. We've got that.

Mr Seymour : So I am very satisfied that it is in its final stages. It has been a—

Senator KIM CARR: I am pleased to hear that.

Mr Seymour : There has been a preliminary affirmative determination in place for some time, which has meant that securities have been taken and the Australian industry APM have been able to enjoy a level of support in relation to the taking of those securities at the rates that have been published. So it is a significant case to undertake—many countries, complex issues across all of those countries concerned—but we are almost complete.

Senator KIM CARR: So you have interim duties in place, which presumably are designed to prevent injury to Australian industry, but how are the final margins calculated?

Mr Seymour : Essentially, the interim duty is done on the basis of the information available to me. I have to satisfy myself that there is a case, and the case standard is really a prima facie standard. Those interim duties are clearly subject to change, because they are set prior to verification of the data, which in detail involves me sending investigating teams to the countries concerned to essentially interrogate that data and satisfy ourselves as to the accuracy of that data in order to create and establish a level of confidence around the normal value calculation and the export price. This always means—in almost every case—that the rates will alter from the preliminary view, and they can go up or they can go down, depending on the data that is provided and verified by my verification teams.

Senator KIM CARR: When do we expect the final margins to be calculated?

Mr Seymour : The final margins are pretty much calculated now. In addition to calculating the dumping margins, we also have to undertake the assessment of injury and causation in the domestic market, and that's the other side of a typical dumping investigation. That process runs essentially in parallel. And, as I said earlier, that is almost at completion stage now.

Senator KIM CARR: So we've got to wait for the final report?

Mr Seymour : Yes. I published a statement of essential facts that gave a very clear indication as to what direction we were heading in; that's on the public record. I don't typically share my final views until I allow the minister the chance, as the decision maker, to have a look at it.

Senator KIM CARR: There's a WTO challenge through the Indonesian government. I understand that you have been off to Europe on these matters in December?

Mr Seymour : Yes. We had our first hearing of the panel on DS529, as it's known. It's a very interesting case. The information presented to the case is not on the public record. There needs to be consent for that to occur, and that consent wasn't provided so I'm limited in what I can say. But I can say that Australia believes that we've acted in accordance with the antidumping agreement, particularly clauses 2.2,, 17.6.1 and 17.6.2. That forms the basis of the debate, if you like, as to whether we are inside the WTO rules or not.

Senator KIM CARR: So you think you've done the right thing. I'm not surprised to hear that. In fact, I'm very pleased to hear you say that. Are you getting full support from other Commonwealth agencies?

Mr Seymour : At the risk of being accused by Senator Patrick of more self-promotion, I can say that it has been an absolute pleasure working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on this particular matter.

Senator KIM CARR: Why is that self-promotion?

Mr Seymour : I'm just being a bit facetious. It's late in the day. Quite seriously though, I really am extremely grateful for the professional work that DFAT have provided in this regard. We've also been able to engage external legal experts to assist us. We have taken the task extremely seriously, and I'm confident that we've put forward a strong case.

Senator KIM CARR: When do you expect a decision?

Mr Seymour : The second hearing has been delayed until May. So we'll go back in at that stage and put our final submissions in, based on our views having seen answers to a range of questions that the panel of three have put to us and to the Indonesian government. The panel will conduct that hearing in May in Geneva and then they will consider their views and produce a final report sometime after that, I think. DFAT suggests that it's probably the end of calendar year 2019 before we'll see a view from the panel.

Senator KIM CARR: Okay. Thank you for that. In regard to aluminium extrusions, there clearly has been a change in trade flows from China and South-East Asia since the last investigation case—case number 442—which looked at two Chinese exporters and Thai exporters. I'm told the magnitude of that change is very significant. Would you agree?

Mr Seymour : I think it's fair to say that Australian manufacturers of aluminium extrusions are facing significant competition. We are currently doing a review of the rates for what we refer to as al-ex imports from China. We've almost completed that case. I'm not able to talk specifically to the outcomes of that case as yet—because it's not finalised, so the minister has yet to receive my final report—but I would say, having sat down with one of the leading manufacturers in Sydney in the last fortnight, it's clear that there are challenging market conditions at the moment.

Senator KIM CARR: Right. So what can you tell us? There's a recent anticircumvention case. Is that the one you're referring to that's with the minister?

Mr Seymour : No, that's a separate one.

Senator KIM CARR: This is 447.

Mr Seymour : That's the trans-shipment decision. That decision was made by the minister.

Senator KIM CARR: What's the story there?

Mr Seymour : That was an extremely challenging case. I wasn't satisfied with the initial response by many exporters. I'll tell you a quick story. The problem with anti-circumvention is that once the tax has been imposed it's almost guaranteed that businesses will try and limit their exposure to those obligations. You'd like to think they'd do that legally and, obviously, many of them might think they're doing it legally but they're actually in breach of Australian customs law. What's really interesting is the emergence of what I call 'intermediaries' who are neither technically the importer nor the exporter but seek to be a mid-point trader who speculates—takes a certain level of risk in buying and selling in the international market, clips the ticket, if you like, and takes the cut on the way through—and who openly advertise circumvention services on the internet and specifically say that they will ensure that the Australian duties on this product will not need to be paid through their actions to circumvent and tranship those products.

Senator KIM CARR: And that's legal, is it?

Mr Seymour : That's happening a lot.

Senator KIM CARR: Is it legal?

Mr Seymour : No, I don't believe it's legal. It's contrary to an obligation that an importer would have to pay a duty on a product that is subject to a measure. So, in that sense, it's in contravention of the Customs Act. We have the ability now—the legislation was amended a couple of years ago—to run our own investigations on those transhipped products. We did so with aluminium, and the minister agreed with my recommendation, and we altered the notice and we named a number of foreign actors in the space who were clearly circumventing. The ones that we weren't able to capture, however, were these intermediaries who, under the current law, I'm unable to name on the notice. I think, going forward, I would be talking to my colleagues on the policy side about how we might be able to provide some disincentives to stop that practice occurring, but it is extremely challenging and difficult.

Senator KIM CARR: Are you saying that there may well be need for punitive action to be taken by the Commonwealth?

Mr Seymour : It's possible. I'm just unsure today as to what that would look like, because these intermediaries are neither the exporter nor the importer yet they're the ones who are providing the mechanism to allow it to happen and they're the ones who are openly out there behaving that way.

Senator KIM CARR: So are they in the reach of Australian law or not?

Mr Seymour : Technically, they're outside of the reach of Australian law. The interesting part of that is, when you write to them and tell them that they are operating contrary to the Australian legal framework, if you like, and customs law, they tend to disappear immediately and then form another company structure in a Phoenix like operation elsewhere. So they're extremely difficult to capture and to control.

Senator KIM CARR: Do you feel that it may be necessary for further legislative change?

Mr Seymour : I would like to think so. But I'm not sure, sitting here today, what form that would take. I need to take advice in relation to the way the current scheme operates and that would be a matter that we'd have to consider down the track.

Senator KIM CARR: Mr Lawson, is there being consideration of this matter within the department at policy level?

Mr Lawson : I might get Mr Squire. We're certainly aware of the issue.

Mr Squire : We certainly are aware of the concerns of transhipment and the potential issues that might be caused. The difficulty, as the commissioner has outlined, is finding a legislative solution to target these sorts of Phoenix-like companies that are essentially based offshore.

Senator KIM CARR: But operating in Australia?

Mr Seymour : No, they're operating offshore.

Mr Squire : Finding a legislative solution to apply exterritorialy—

Senator KIM CARR: What's the scale of this, do you think? Thank you, Mr Squire.

Mr Seymour : I think it's probably more significant than we appreciate. What I have done is—and I know it's the angry letter syndrome—I have written angry letters to them saying I know who they are and that I'm watching them. I'm sure they probably just throw the letter in the bin, but the reality is—

Senator KIM CARR: Would you say it forces them to re-establish in another form?

Mr Seymour : Also, the other mechanism might be to appeal to the good nature of other governments who are operating within the WTO to promote a more compliant system. But it's common knowledge that they're out there actively promoting their services to circumvent Australian trade law or customs law.

Senator KIM CARR: It's clearly a matter for future activity, though?

Mr Seymour : Yes, I would think so.

Senator KIM CARR: When you've worked out what to do?

Mr Seymour : Yes. Having said that, I'm extremely pleased with the powers that we have in the anti-circumvention space that have been delivered in the last few years. I think they have made a significant difference to our ability to actually provide and drive that enforcement that we spoke of earlier.

Senator KIM CARR: In regard to that legislated 155-day rule, how many new or reviewed cases have been delivered within that time period?

Mr Seymour : I can clearly say that none of the complex matters have been delivered in 155 days. As I said earlier, my expectation is they never would be because they're too complex. In order for me to deliver procedural and substantive fairness to all parties in a highly contested environment, I literally can't do justice to those obligations in 155 calendar days.

Senator KIM CARR: Presumably you've had ministerial extensions to allow you that time?

Mr Seymour : The minister, some 18 months ago, delegated the power to extend matters to me, as the commissioner, and I have been undertaking that process myself since then.

Senator KIM CARR: So it's automatic?

Mr Seymour : No, it's not automatic. We go through a very rigorous internal process to satisfy myself that the extension is justified.

Senator KIM CARR: How do you get an extension? What is this rigorous process?

Mr Seymour : One of my general managers here needs to do an analysis of the complexity of the case and the barriers—

Senator KIM CARR: Mr Sexton asks you to extend the time limit?

Mr Seymour : He puts a formal submission to me.

Senator KIM CARR: I can see how rigorous this is!

Mr Seymour : I think it's pretty rigorous. I have an legislative obligation to meet in terms of how I exercise it.

Senator KIM CARR: I know that, but you're saying every single case—I presume they're all complex—has required you to go over the 155 days?

Mr Seymour : All complex cases, not every single case.

Senator KIM CARR: How many cases have been done within the 155 days?

Mr Seymour : There are a number of review categories and I can give you the detail if I could take that on notice.

Senator KIM CARR: You can take on notice how many have required an extension and how many have been within the 155 days.

Mr Seymour : Certainly, we can take that on notice.

Senator KIM CARR: The inference I took from you was that the 155-day rule really was more honorific?

Mr Seymour : No. In complex dumping and subsidy cases, what I'm saying is that I can't complete them in 155 calendar days and meet my substantive and procedural fairness obligations to all the parties.

Mr Squire : I might point out, if it's helpful, that the reason the minister delegated this power to the commissioner was to improve efficiency in the system. Previously, the commissioner would need to go to the minister to seek an extension. That process took away resources from the commissioner. This was about improving the timeliness of decision-making. The reasons for the extension were made public as well.

Senator KIM CARR: I want to go back to this issue of noncompliance. Is there any monitoring work being undertaken to make sure that recovery and compliance, in terms of the anti-dumping and countervailing duties, are actually being fully met?

Mr Zhivov : As the Australian Border Force are the compliance agency, we do a lot of the work to ensure compliance by working together with them. There are about eight things that we do together. They go beyond compliance as well. We work together with them and their systems in order to collect duties and conduct investigations. So we have joint access to systems that we both analyse that assist in identifying compliance and progressing it where necessary. We've provided training across all states in Australia except Tasmania with two ABF officers on anti-dumping measures and how to undertake compliance in that space. We have provided direct advice and assistance to them on some compliance matters. For example, a recent matter involved a compliance issue relating to an allegation that a product called line pipe was being imported but characterised as HSS. When anti-circumvention matters have come up, we have worked together and been able to piggyback off their powers to undertake inspections of products, to check whether or not there was a slight modification of the goods. We've had joint compliance visits, where there has been compliance, so that we've been able to provide information to them about whether the product they're looking at is actually the product that is alleged. At the front end of investigations to maximise the chances that we actually have an outcome that is enforceable, we work with ABF to endure that the goods' description both covers the goods effectively and also can be enforced by a court if necessary. They attend both the ITRF and ITRF subcommittees, and particularly the subcommittee on compliance, to ensure that they're getting the benefit of the information that's been provided by industry. Very recently, they have authorised a number of the staff of the Anti-Dumping Commission as customs officers, so that they can access more advanced analytics software that assists in monitoring trade flows and ultimately might have an impact on compliance, as well.

Senator KIM CARR: I have one more question and the rest I will put on notice for the Anti-Dumping Commission. In terms of your third party countries on the aluminium exclusion, did you actually get full cooperation from Border Force in terms of your work?

Mr Seymour : This is in the anti-circumvention case I was referring to?

Senator KIM CARR: Yes.

Mr Seymour : My case manager worked closely with Border Force in relation to that particular case and was required to because most of the noncompliance data is obviously held by the Australian Border Force, in their customs database.

Senator KIM CARR: Did you notice any recovery of duties as a result of this?

Mr Seymour : I would have it take that specific question on notice—

Senator KIM CARR: Could you—

Mr Seymour : because he may well have made some calculations in that regard.

Senator KIM CARR: Could you also take on notice whether or not there have been any prosecutions or infringement notices issued, and if not, why not?

Mr Seymour : That may not be a matter that the Anti-Dumping Commission would have responsibility for, and if that is not the case, I'll refer that to ABF.

Senator KIM CARR: I'll put the rest of my questions on notice.

CHAIR: Thank you to the Anti-Dumping Commission for appearing before us today. We'll let you go. I now call on the Australian Institute of Marine Science.