Australia stands firm against China’s “petty” decision to file a complaint with the global trade arbiter over anti-dumping measures on steel imports.
Tariffs on imported railroad wheels, stainless steel sinks and wind towers are the subject of World Trade Organization action launched by Beijing on Thursday evening.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham is confident Australia’s anti-dumping regime will withstand the affair which could take between two and four years.
“To be honest, I would say it’s more mean-spirited than provocative,” he told ABC radio on Friday.
“We don’t think China will find it has a strong case for the action it takes.”
The move came after Australia complained to the WTO about punitive wine tariffs that crushed Australian producers and exports.
The WTO is also examining an Australian complaint over measures that effectively halted barley exports to its largest trading partner.
Senator Birmingham said the barley and wine decisions were appalling as no subsidies were given to Australian farmers.
“Our systems and processes are strong and contrast with the type of approach that has been used in relation to China’s ruling against our wine and barley industries,” he said.
Trade Minister Dan Tehan said anti-dumping measures had been implemented based on a detailed analysis of the Australian industry.
“We will vigorously defend this dispute,” he told ABC on Friday.
He said only the Chinese government could respond if it was retaliation, but noted that the normal diplomatic convention of providing notice was not followed.
“We say all the time that we want to sit down and resolve these differences. There may be things we can’t agree on, but the best thing is dialogue,” Tehan said.