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EC rejects paper dumping allegations

Thursday, 19 April 2018
By Graham Osborne

The European Commission (EC) has rejected claims by Australian Paper that Austria, Finland and Slovakia are dumping copy paper onto the Australian market.

In a written submission to the Federal Government’s Anti-Dumping Commission (ADC), the Directorate-General for Trade of the EC said the allegations “do not appear to be convincing at this stage of the investigation.”

Australian Paper – Australia’s only office paper manufacturer – told the ADC last month that the local A4 copy paper market had suffered “material injury” caused by cheap A4 copy paper exported from Austria, Finland, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic.

In its preliminary report, the ADC said: There appear to be reasonable grounds to support the claims that the Australian industry has experienced material injury in the form of: price depression; price suppression; loss of revenue; loss of profits; reduced profitability; and reduced return on investment.

Australian Paper – owned by Japan’s Nippon Paper Group – welcomed the ADC’s decision to begin a formal investigation. “Australian jobs and the future of the local industry continue to be under threat from low market prices,” said Peter Williams, COO Australian Paper.

But in a submission this week from its headquarters in Brussels, the EC strongly dismissed the dumping claims.

“On the basis of the injury factors provided so far (sales, profits, market share, prices, magnitude of the dumping margin and return on investment) the domestic industry does not seem to be suffering injury caused by allegedly dumped imports from the subject countries,” said the EC’s Directorate-General for Trade.

The Australian industry was showing “no signs of volume injury” during the investigation period (2014-2017) “but to the contrary,” according to the EC.

“The A4 copy paper market in Australia has been declining in 2015 and 2016 and recovered slightly in 2017. Against that trend, the domestic industry’s sales volumes and sales revenues have increased significantly, especially in the last two years of the investigation period (+ 38%). Market shares of the domestic industry follow a similar trend, reaching a share of approximately 72% in 2017.

“Regarding profits, it appears that the industry increased its performance by 10% in 2017 – following two years of decline, which would not show any injury caused by the investigated imports.”

The EC said injury and causality analysis “do not appear to be convincing at this stage of the investigation” and called for an in-depth analysis of “the impact of other factors” on the current situation.

“The European Commission trusts that the Australian authorities will comply with their WTO obligations throughout the proceeding,” said the EC.

The ADC is investigating exports to Australia between 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017 to look for evidence of dumping and intends to examine the local market from 1 January 2014 for ‘injury analysis purposes’ to see whether the dumped goods provide a basis for a dumping notice to apply retrospectively.

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