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Tariff Board - Reports - Buttons


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1959.

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THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA.

TARIFF REVISION.

TARIFF BOARD’S REPORT ON

BUTTONS.

1st A U G U S T , 195S.

Presented by Command ; ordered to be printed, 19th February, 1959,

[Cost of Paper.—Preparation, not given; 790 copies; approximate cost of printing and publishing £57.]

(Printed in A ustralia.)

P rin ted and Published for the Governm ent of the Com m o nw ea lth of A u st r a l ia by A. J. A r t h u r, Commonwealth G overnm ent P rin ter, Canberra.

No. 1 [Group A],—F.5435/58.— P rice 9d .

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(£) Polyester buttons are not made in Australia from locally produced raw material but from imported blanks. The cost of the locally finished article was stated to be twice that of a

comparable imported button and it is not manufactured in the popular “ fish-eye ” shape.

AUSTRALIAN PRODUCTION.

In 1956-57 the total value of buttons produced by manufacturers represented at the inquiry was approxi­ mately £930,000. For that period the output of General Plastics Ltd. and Bijou Button and Buckle Pty. Ltd. was

stated to be about 40 per cent, of the local production. This in turn, they claimed, represented nearly one-third of the total market requirements, including imports. At the time of the public inquiry the former company was

stated to be operating at about two-thirds of its capacity and the latter at about 60 per cent, of its capacity. Buttons

constitute more than 80 per cent, of the total production of the Bijou Button and Buckle Pty. Ltd. and about 75 per cent, of the total production of General Plastics Ltd.

Stokes & Sons Pty. Ltd. stated that they have the capacity and facilities to treble their output of metal buttons. Production of “ anodised ” aluminium buttons for the defence forces constitutes about 75 per cent, of

the company’s button output. The value of metal buttons produced has risen from £27,000 in 1954-55 to £38,000 in 1956-57.

Details of the output of other manufacturers were submitted to the Board in confidence.

Table No. 1 shows the kind of relationship, by total value, between Australian and imported buttons of various materials. For purposes of comparison the value of casein buttons is taken as the base (100) and all other figures

are in index form related to this base.

TABLE No. 1.

Relative Total Values of Locally Produced and Imported Buttons 1956-57. (Value of Australian Production o f Casein Buttons = 100.)

— Casein. Plastic. Polyester. Shell. Glass. Metal.

Horn Powder, Horn and Corozo Nut. Wood and

Others.

Australian Production .. 1 0 0 133 0.05 24

Im ported .. .. 0 . 1 9 64 18 14 0 . 0 2 4 0.08

The aggregate capital invested at 30th June, 1957, by the Australian manufacturers who gave evidence at the inquiry was approximately £600,000. This total includes the capital employed in the manufacture of buttons from raw materials and those processed from imported blanks.

General Plastics Ltd. produce buttons fabricated or stamped from casein, acrylics, polyester resins, metal (including metal button moulds) and buttons made by compression or injection moulding processes. Bijou

Button and Buckle Pty. Ltd. are mainly manufacturers of casein and acrylic buttons ranging from 18 ligne to 90 ligne size (40 ligne = 1 inch) and in thickness from 2 to 14 millimetres. Peerless Plastics specialize in small

casein buttons for knitwear. G. Herring (Aust.) Pty. Ltd. manufacture fashion buttons from casein and polyester. This company has as associated companies—

G. Herring (Plastics) Pty. Ltd. Herculoid (Aust.) Pty. Ltd. G. Herring (N.Z.) Ltd. G. Herring (Hong Kong) Ltd. all of which were stated to be directly interested in the

manufacture of buttons and plastics allied thereto.

The largest manufacturer of metal uniform buttons is Stokes and Sons Pty. Ltd. An extension of the “ anodis­ ing ” process is used so that aluminium buttons can be coloured gold or silver. Metal buttons used on overalls

and other industrial clothing, and mattress tufting buttons for inner-spring mattresses of a type used in automatic tufting machines are made by Carr Fastener Co. of Aust. Ltd.

It was stated that glass buttons are not made locally. Neither are vegetable ivory (corozo) nor real horn buttons —the most nearly comparable types are those of plastics and imitation horn. Novelty metal buttons are not made

in large variety, and only occasionally are wooden buttons made in Australia.

Mr. M. A. Griffiths, representing General Plastics Ltd., claimed that the efficiency of the industry compares favorably with the overseas button industry, with the possible exception of the United States. He also claimed

that the quality of locally made buttons is at least equal

to that of imported buttons. For Bijou Button and Buckle Pty. Ltd., Mr. B. Vodak claimed that the quality of Australian-made buttons is at least as good as equivalent

importations, and that production methods are as up-to- date as overseas. Most of the processes are carried out by automatic machines but to a varying degree depend­ ing on the type and quality of the button.

Mr. C. F. A. Muller, for Carr Fastener Company of Australia Ltd., claimed that a canvass of the mattress trade revealed that locally produced mattress tufting buttons are considered superior to the imported article

and would be used exclusively if the cost were no greater. However, this claim was contested by Mr. J. R. Morrison (an importer of mattress buttons from the United King­ dom) who pointed out that buttons produced by the English manufacturer pass through an electronic testing

machine which rejects the faulty buttons. At present, only comparatively small quantities of buttons are exported. For 1956-57, exports by General Plastics Ltd. consisted mainly of machinery, tools and dies for button making together with a small quantity of special buttons. For the same period G. Herring

(Aust.) Pty. Ltd., exported finished buttons or raw material to New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore valued at approximately £16,000. Stokes and Sons Pty.

Ltd. supply metal uniform buttons to the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

IMPORTATIONS.

Since the last inquiry the total value of imported' buttons had shown a general decline until 1957-58 when, judged on figures for the first 10 months, it appears likely that the total will reach, or exceed, the 1951-52 value of £363,000.

Importations of metal buttons under Item 106 ( f )(2) are now less than one-third of the 1951-52 figure. The value of buttons imported under item 1 0 6 ( f ) (3) has fluctuated but in 1957-58 it may again approach the

1951-52 level. For this item it is noticeable that over the past three years importations from Hong Kong and particularly Japan have increased considerably, largely at the expense of the United Kingdom although the

latest figures indicate something of a recovery by that country.

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from imported blanks. The Board therefore recom­ mends that blanks used in the manufacture of buttons, suitably described as being not formed, drilled, domed, hollowed, polished nor otherwise machined, should be

dutiable at a rate of 22i per cent, ad valorem, British Preferential Tariff, and 35 per cent, ad valorem when imported from countries entitled to “ Most-Favoured­ Nation ” tariff rates.

Trochus and Pearl Shell Buttons. Trochus and pearl shell buttons are not now produced commercially in Australia. It was estimated by one wit­ ness that about 90 per cent, of the previous demand for

shell buttons has been met by imitations. However, it was claimed that some clothing manufacturers still require real shell buttons for more exclusive clothing. it is not proposed to recommend any increase in the duty on buttons of trochus, pearl or other natural shell but. if the Board’s recommendations are accepted, such

buttons will be placed in a new sub-item with buttons made of other animal or vegetable substances.

Horn and Vegetable ivory Buttons. In the 1952 report by the Board, considerable promi­ nence was given to the importance of corozo and dum-nut buttons and, to a lesser extent, horn buttons all of which

are substitutable for casein and plastic buttons commonly used on men’s outerwear. There is little doubt that these imported buttons are now less competitive with locally made buttons. But they are still substitutable and, although

the Board cannot agree with the request of the Australian Association of British Manufacturers that real horn and vegetable ivory buttons should be duty free, British Preferential Tariff, it recommends that buttons made of such natural materials should be put with those of trochus,

pearl or other marine shell in a new sub-item dutiable at a rate of 10 per cent, ad valorem British Preferential Tariff and 221 per cent, ad valorem when imported from countries entitled to “ Most-Favoured-Nation ” tariff rates.

Metal and Other Buttons.

The request by General Plastics Ltd. and others for a 47f per cent, ad valorem British Preferential Tariff rate on metal buttons would seem difficult to justify, especially when the request by the largest Australian producer of

metal buttons, Stokes and Sons Pty. Ltd., was that the duty should not be reduced from the present level of 17i per cent. From the available evidence the Board believes that some increase in the British Preferential Tariff duty

on mattress tufting buttons is justified although not to the extent requested by Carr Fastener Company of Australia Ltd. The Board considers that all metal buttons, other than

those partly or wholly of gold or silver which are not under reference, should be made dutiable at the same rate, it recommends that this rate should be 22j- per cent, ad valorem British Preferential Tariff and 35 per cent, ad

valorem when imported from countries entitled to “ Most­ Favoured-Nation ” tariff rates. Glass buttons are imported in considerable quantities and although they do not compete directly, as there is no

local production of glass buttons, they can be made in such a way as to be readily substitutable for many kinds of plastic buttons. At the same time it was pointed out by those opposing increased duties that glass buttons have a

brightness and fineness of finish and design which is not achieved with plastic buttons. If the Board’s proposals are accepted, glass buttons will be classified as other buttons. No evidence was submitted on tinsel buttons: the Board considers that they should be classified as other buttons.

RECOMMENDATIONS.

The Board recommends— (a) that buttons made of casein, acrylics, polyesters, plastics or any other synthetic material, or buttons that are imitations of trochus or pearl

shell, with or without metal fittings or metal

F.5435/58.—2

fastening devices, be dutiable at 1 id. per ligne per gross less 12i per cent, ad valorem British Preferential Tariff and 1 id. per ligne per gross when imported from countries entitled to

“ Most-Favoured-Nation ” tariff rates; (b) that buttons or button blanks made of animal or vegetable material such as horn, corozo or drum-nut be classified under the same sub­

item as trochus, pearl, or other natural shell dutiable at 10 per cent, ad valorem British Pre­ ferential Tariff and 22i per cent, ad valorem

when imported from countries entitled to “ Most-Favoured-Nation ” tariff rates; (c) that other buttons, including all types of metal buttons other than those under the existing

Item 106 ( f ) ( 1 ) , be dutiable at 22j per cent, ad valorem British Preferential Tariff and 35 per cent, ad valorem when imported from countries entitled to “ Most-Favoured-Nation ”

tariff rates; and (d) that blanks, n.e.i., to be used in the manufacture of buttons, not formed, drilled, domed, hal­ lowed, polished, nor otherwise machined, be

dutiable at 2 2 | per cent, ad valorem British Preferential Tariff and 35 per cent, ad valorem when imported from countries entitled to “ Most-Favoured-Nation ” tariff rates.

A. WESTERMAN, Chairman. V. A. CLARK, Member. P. B. NEWCOMEN, Member. F. I. ELY, Member.

Melbourne, Victoria, 1st August, 1958.

APPENDIX “ A ”.

EXISTING DUTIES. Customs Tariff 1933-1958. British Preferential

Tariff.

Item 106. ( f ) Buttons, n.e.i., includ­ ing blanks and those partly finished— (2) Wholly of metal (not

being partly or wholly of gold or silver) excepting trouser buttons .. ad val. 173% (3) Non-metallic, other than

those made of glass or

tinsel and those specified in paragraph (4) of this sub-item, with or without metal fittings or metal

fastening devices; cloth covered . . ad val. 221%

(4) Trochus, pearl, or other

marine animal shell, and imitations of trochus or pearl shell .. ad val. 10%

(5) Other . . . . ad val. 35%

Item 449. (a) Materials and manu­ factures for use in the manufac­ ture or repair of goods within the Commonwealth, or for use in the

development of an Australian industry or of the natural

resources of Australia, or for

use in public hospitals or public educational institutions, or for use by public utilities established and e'r Commonwealth or State law and not being conducted for

private gain, or for other essential purposes— (1) Provided suitably equivalent goods the produce or

manufacture of Australia are not reasonably avail­ able, as prescribed by Departmental By-laws

ad val. Free

Inter­ mediate General Tariff. Tariff.

35% . . 521%

47i% . . 521%

. . 223% . . 273%

.. 473% .. 523%

71% . . 73%