Australian Paper demands level playing field
Australia’s only manufacturer of printing and packaging paper has expressed grave concern about calls for the removal of trade barriers for Indonesian paper products.
Allegations that Indonesia and other countries have already dumped cheap A4 copy paper in Australia have been the subject of an Anti-Dumping Commission (ADC) inquiry that’s expected to hand down its final report on or before 17 March 2017 – a week later than previously scheduled.
During a visit to Australia last month to discuss a proposed free trade deal, Indonesian President Joko Widodo told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that one of the key issues was the removal of trade barriers for Indonesian products, including paper and palm oil.
“We can talk goodwill all we want but ultimately we have to see concrete proof of unfettered and natural trade,” Thomas Lembong, the chairman of Indonesia’s Investment Co-ordinating board, told Fairfax Media.
Australian Paper, owned by Japanese giant Nippon Paper Industries and one of the Latrobe Valley’s largest employers, has called on the ADC and the Australian Government to hold firm on the issue.
“A stable trading environment is vital for the future of paper manufacturing in Australia,” says Peter Williams, chief operating officer of Australian Paper.
“Australian Paper is continuing to compete fiercely in our domestic market and we require a level playing field. Free trade must also be fair trade, and we encourage the Australian Government to remain strong in supporting the ADC’s efforts to restore fairness to the Australian copy paper market and ensuring copy paper imports comply with internationally recognised trade rules.
“The ADC’s investigation into copy paper from Indonesia, China, Thailand and Brazil has been a long and exhaustive exercise,” says Williams. “Australian Paper has been satisfied with the process to date which has provisionally found that Indonesian, Chinese, Thai and Brazilian exporters of A4 copy paper have been selling dumped and/or subsidised paper into the Australian market.
“We are committed to remaining a leading regional employer in the Latrobe Valley and will continue to evolve our business to compete effectively in the Australian market. The confirmation of the ADC’s findings will be an opportunity to restore fairness to the local copy paper market so that Australian Paper is secure to invest in the future of Latrobe Valley manufacturing. Any country which has been selling dumped and/or subsidised copy paper into the Australian market has been putting local jobs at risk.”
Production workers at Australian Paper’s Maryvale mill recently agreed to take a five per cent pay cut in a bid to secure the future of the operation.
Australian Paper, manufacturer of the popular Reflex brand office paper, employs about 1300 people.