AUSTRALIAN Customs has supported a request from WA chemical manufacturer Nufarm for an anti-dumping duty on imports of 2,4-D acid from China to be continued.
The decision was slammed by WA farm chemical company 4Farmers chairman Phil Patter-son, Gnowangerup, who said the result meant there would be no reduction in the price for this herbicide group, at a time when WA was facing one of the most important crop seasons for years.
Mr Patterson said Nufarm had applied for an extension of an anti-trade dumping restriction on 2,4-D it gained five years ago when the acid was being put on the Australian market by Chinese manufacturers, even though the company’s operation consisted only of carrying out a minor process of imported stock.
“We were informed by our many contacts in China that Customs did not even talk to any of the manufacturers up there,” Mr Patterson said.
“Yet the basis of this anti-dumping claim is that the product is being landed in Australia at a lower price than in the country of manufacture.
“We could have told them that the landed price in Australia of the basic 2,4-D acid has risen 70pc over the past five years, which makes it hard to believe that the current price could be considered a dumped one.
“Yet the Customs Department has just acceded to the Nufarm request.”
Mr Patteron is also annoyed by a range of herbicides impor-ted into the country that still have a tariff — including 2,4-D, trifluralin, triadimefon 500 and chlorsulfuron — while the tax on glyphosate is currently being appealed by 4Farmers at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
“The last time we had a Federal Labor Government in Canberra the relevant minister referred the herbicide tariff question to the Prices Surveil-lance Authority, which recom-mended an immediate reduction to five per cent, to be followed a few years later by its total removal,” Mr Patterson said.
“The Coalition government did nothing about this impost for all the years it was in power and now the new Labor Govern-ment has started its term in office by ignoring the PSA inquiry it initiated all those years ago and allowing a price impost to remain.
“The eastern states and the northern half of the WA Wheat-belt are facing a critical season this year following a period of drought, with the current record grain prices being countered by massive fuel, chemical and fertiliser cost increases, so the last thing they need is a Govern-ment-sanctioned tax on herbi-cides.
“It’s time for government to put the interests of farmers ahead of the financial aspira-tions of multinationals.”