Cheap imports hurt local industry

A WANGARATTA manufacturer says it is under increasing pressure from cheap and shoddy imports and needs protection.

Fitweld Engineering director Clyde Hawkins says bureaucratic red tape and demanding standards place them at a disadvantage in competing against imports made without those extra costs.

Yesterday he joined federal member for Indi and opposition industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella in calling for stronger laws targeting the dumping of foreign products.

Mrs Mirabella said it was unacceptable that some of these products were being sold for less than the cost price in Australia.

She stopped short of calling it a tariff but wants greater and more simply applied penalties for those countries “dumping” goods in Australia.

Mrs Mirabella also wants to establish a North East manufacturing group and act as their lobbyist in Canberra

Mr Hawkins said they can’t compete against the cheaper goods.

Fitweld Engineering’s 22 staff manufacture architecturally designed steel fabrications for commercial and industrial buildings.

He said business was down 10 per cent this year.

“What we find is that the imports often do not meet the standards that we are required to adhere to here in Australia,” Mr Hawkins said.

“They should be made to meet our standard before it can be allowed into the country.

“That way we are competing on an equal footing.”

Mrs Mirabella wants to ban foreign goods, subsidised by their government and sold for a lower than cost price in Australia.

“At present there are very few successful applications for the anti-dumping tariff because it is very complex and very expensive,” she said.

“I want to make sure that dumped goods are sold at an appropriate price.”

She said manufacturing was a major employer and needed a voice in Canberra.

“I believe our region, Australia, has a vibrant future in manufacturing,” she said.

“Our businesses are very competitive but governments apply a lot of standards and regulations that simply add to the cost of production.

“Those increase costs are not applied to imports. These extra costs acts as a defacto tariff.

“I don’t want to see hard-working small businesses go to the wall because of bad policy.”

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