Business

Labor would triple anti-dumping penalties

A Labor government would triple penalties for dumping cheap overseas steel into the Australian market, party leader Bill Shorten says.

Penalties for dumping cheap overseas steel and other products in Australia will be tripled if Labor wins the next federal election.

The dumping watchdog would also be beefed up with an extra $3.5 million a year to make sure countries aren't pouring below-cost steel into Australia.

But the Turnbull government insists the changes aren't necessary.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the United States' proposed tariff hike on steel poses a real risk to the Australian industry.

"Labor will not let Australia become a dumping ground for cheap foreign goods sent here by trade cheats," he will announce on Friday.

The Anti-Dumping Commission will be given 30 extra staff and the new responsibility for monitoring sudden and large increases in imports.

"Labor strongly believes in free trade, but we also believe that it needs to be conducted on a level playing field," Mr Shorten says.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo slammed the "knee-jerk" plan, saying the commission had done good work.

"We have seen no evidence the Anti-Dumping Commission in any way shape or form is falling short," he told ABC Radio.

Mr Shorten says Australia is lagging behind other countries, imposing just 24 per cent duties on dumped steel in 2015 while the US imposed 256 per cent.

"Australia rarely imposes anti-dumping penalties in excess of 30 per cent," he said.

Labor will triple the penalties, and the increased revenue will be invested back into the anti-dumping system.

The Anti-Dumping Commission will become a one-stop shop for monitoring of dumping, taking over the Productivity Commission's role of safeguards investigations.

Mr Shorten says dumping is a particular problem for Australia's steel industry, in which more than 60 per cent of current anti-dumping measures are in force.

Labor says the United States' proposed 25 per cent tariff on imported steel will increase the threat of more below-cost steel being dumped in Australia, putting further pressure on an industry already feeling the impact of a glut of Chinese steel production.

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