Trump's tariff announcements starts doomsday clock for Australian industry, unless Turnbull acts now

Friday 02nd March 2018 0:00

Irrationally-priced, state-subsidised, low quality Chinese steel is about to flood the global market as a result of Donald Trump's tariff announcement, and the Australian Workers' Union is calling on the Turnbull Government to act swiftly and decisively to save Australian industry from catastrophe.


Fresh reports show the United States is planning to slap tariffs of 25 per cent on all imported steel and 10 per cent on broad categories of aluminium imports.


AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said time is now of the essence. 


"Malcolm Turnbull supposedly just spent a week in deep private discussion with Trump – if he doesn't have a plan to act swiftly and decisively off the back of this move he is criminally negligent," Mr Walton said.


"The US has finally had enough of Chinese steel and aluminium dumping and they've thrown up a wall. That means there will now be even more irrationally-priced, state-subsidised, low quality Chinese steel and aluminium looking for a home. 


"The Australian steel and aluminium industries, which have been in a healthy period of recovery, will be absolutely decimated by this decision unless the government acts now."  


Mr Walton said there were a range of things the federal government could do immediately. 


"Australia has the power to enact emergency tariffs, but John Howard handed that power to the Productivity Commission. Turnbull should seize it back immediately," Mr Walton said. 


"Mr Turnbull should also use his close relationship with Donald Trump to get on the phone immediately and demand an exemption to his tariffs for Australia. Canada looks set to get an exemption. The wall was constructed against China, not Australia. An exemption should not be hard for any Australian leader worth his salt to secure. 


"Bluescope, for example, exports directly into the US. They need an immediate and urgent exemption – along with any other Australian aluminium or steel exporter.


"Mr Turnbull also needs to introduce strong local procurement policies to protect Australian industry from the onslaught that lies ahead. If the government simply guaranteed the use of quality Australian steel and aluminium in Australian infrastructure projects, this would go a long way to saving thousands upon thousands of jobs.


"There can be no waffling and equivocating on this issue. Trump has set the doomsday clock counting down and it's up to Turnbull to act."