Australia has clamped protective measures to save its steel industry from dumping of steel from Asian countries. It plugged loopholes to salvage the local industry’s interests in which Asian companies were reportedly avoiding Australian duties up to 62.9 percent by making minor adjustments in their steel products.

Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne announced that the government decided to enforce anti-dumping duty with retrospective effect by removing a loophole that allowed minor manipulation in the products.  It was done after an investigation by the Anti-Dumping Commission.

“Australian steelmakers need to be able to benefit from free and fair trade,” Pyne said.

Pyne had sought advice from the Anti-Dumping Commission to stop the dumping of steel from Asian countries.

“If somebody is breaching the rules, and the Anti-Dumping Commissioner has decided this is the case with these two types of steel products, then we’re perfectly within our rights to protect Australian business,” Pyne asserted.

The Anti-Dumping Commissioner investigated complaints by Bluescope, which alleged that companies from China, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia had been avoiding millions of dollars in Australian taxes, reports The Australian.

Pyne said the new rules will bring more than $4 million in duties. They will apply to galvanised steel, where the duties range from 2.6 percent to 62.9 percent. For hollow structural steel sections, the new duties will range from 3 percent to 57.1 percent.

The Australian Steel Association (ASA) welcomed the government’s step on fast-tracking anti-dumping laws. It said time was running out to keep the local steel industry afloat, The ABC reported.

The steel sector in Australia was hard hit with closures and job losses. The association said it is not advocating high tariffs just for the sake of blocking cheap steel from coming in. Association’s CEO Tony Dixon noted that Australia had been operating in a free market environment for many decades with minimum tariffs on imported steels.

“It’s important that Australia continues to operate this way, but it is necessary other countries meet their own obligations under international law,” he noted. Minister Pyne said the dumping of cheap steel had been distorting markets and made Australian steel uncompetitive.