Chinese trade officials say the country’s manufacturers are vital in preventing an annual shortfall of 270 wind towers in Australia as they urge the federal government to scrap anti-dumping duties.
China’s Ministry of Commerce, in a submission to the Anti-Dumping Commission, said Chinese wind towers made from large steel plates were crucial for Australia’s economic growth and its renewable energy ambitions, and should not be handicapped by duties as high as 10.9 per cent.
China’s Ministry of Commerce says without importing wind towers made in China, Australia will have a shortfall of about 270 annually.  AAP
It comes as a step-up in output by China’s steel mills in the past few weeks underpinned a jump in iron ore prices of almost 20 per cent since the start of September. Prices reached about $US120 a tonne, a six-month high, before softening slightly.
Demand for steel is rising in green energy infrastructure in particular, and analysts say the lift in steel output is also a sign of Chinese policymakers stimulating the economy more broadly.
Keppel Prince Engineering, based at Portland in south-western Victoria, applied in May for a continuation of anti-dumping measures that have been in place since 2014. An Anti-Dumping Commission spokesman said the rates of duty ranged between 1.2 per cent and 10.9 per cent.
Beijing imposed punishing tariffs on Australian wine in late 2020, which largely ended wine exports to China worth $1.3 billion annually. But Chinese state news agency Xinhua last week reported that the Ministry of Commerce wanted a “packaged solution” to the wine anti-dumping case by linking it to restrictions on wind towers, railway wheels and stainless-steel sinks. The Albanese government has rejected this proposal.
The Ministry of Commerce, in a letter dated September 20, says Australia’s renewable energy targets for 2030 mean it will need 350 wind towers annually. It says Australian manufacturers combined are capable of making only about 80 a year.
It references targets set by Energy Minister Chris Bowen and notes that the Australian Energy Market Operator has said wind power installation capacity needs to increase by 300 per cent by 2030.
The letter argues that wind towers from China make up 2.6 per cent of exports to Australia and are not “dumped” here. Larger export destinations include the United States, Japan and India.
“The [government of China] considers that the wind towers exported from China are not ‘dumped’ and have not been the cause of material injury to the Australian industry, and is unlikely to be the cause of material injury in the future,” the submission reads, adding that Australian manufacturers including Keppel Prince do not have the capacity to keep up with demand.
“The Australian domestic producers only have a maximum annual output of under 80 towers, and are more constrained in [their] capacity to supply tower sections with larger diameters, therefore cannot meet Australia’s wind power projects demands,” it reads.
“In this context, Chinese wind towers provide beneficial and necessary supplement and the vital support for Australia’s wind power market, rather than ‘injuring’ or [being] detrimental to the Australian domestic industries.”
A decision is scheduled for January. It is separate to a dispute which China took to the World Trade Organisation in 2021 over anti-dumping measures applied to railway wheels, wind towers and stainless-steel sinks.
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