The Australian Steel Institute (ASI) has welcomed an investigation by the new Australian Anti-dumping Commission into wind towers exported into Australia from China and Korea. ASI is the peak body representing the complete Australian steel supply chain.
The investigation is in response to an application by the Australian wind tower industry from a group of local steel fabricators known as the Australian Wind Tower Manufacturing Alliance, which claims that Chinese and Korean manufacturers of utility scale wind towers have exported these goods at unfair prices designed to undercut local Australian manufacturers and cause the Australian industry ‘material’ economic injury.
Utility scale wind towers are the steel structures designed to support wind power turbines and blades used in commercial wind farm projects, and are often over 80 metres in height when assembled. Australian wind towers are manufactured from high quality Australian-made steel plate with a typical wind tower containing over 160 tonnes of steel.
Steve Garner, spokesperson for the Alliance and General Manager of Australia’s largest wind tower manufacturer, Keppel Prince explains that while Australian wind tower manufacturers regret this course of action, they had no choice as these incidents of towers being dumped into the Australian market were destroying the local wind tower manufacturing industry, and would eventually wipe out approximately 700 manufacturing jobs in the Australian clean energy sector and many more indirect jobs.
To date, one large wind tower manufacturer, RPG Australia has been wound up largely due to the impact of imported wind towers undercutting the local industry.
The Australian wind tower industry used the services of the Australian Government-funded International Trade Remedies Advisor, an anti-dumping specialist employed by the Australian Industry Group.
Notwithstanding the outcome of the forthcoming Federal Election, the renewable energy sector and the wind power industry is expected to grow significantly during the remainder of this decade due to bi-partisan support for renewable energy target (RET) legislation.
According to ASI National Manager – Industry Development, Ian Cairns, if local manufacturing does not benefit and grow from ongoing taxpayer support for the renewable energy sector it will become less and less relevant to Australian communities. The ASI will be taking it up with the incumbent Government to extend the recent Jobs Bill legislation and the use of Australian Industry Participation Plans for all renewable energy projects.
Steve Edmunds, Managing Director of Haywards, a medium-sized enterprise manufacturing wind towers, acknowledged the pivotal role performed by the International Trade Remedies Advisor, saying that they would not have had the resources to prepare the application without the technical advice and support of the Advisor.
The Anti-dumping Commission will now investigate the Australian industry’s claims with a recommendation to the Minister likely in the months ahead. If successful, the Australian wind tower industry will seek to enforce the retrospective imposition of duties on imported towers, following the Australian Government’s recent changes to Anti-dumping legislation.