Australia has brushed off China’s “petty” decision to lodge a complaint with the global trade umpire about anti-dumping measures on steel imports.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham is confident Australia’s anti-dumping regime will stand up in the case which could take between two to four years.
“I’d call it more petty than provocative, to be honest,” he told ABC radio on Friday.
“We don’t think China will find it has any sort of strong case in the action it is taking.”
Tariffs on imported railway wheels, stainless steel sinks and wind towers are the subject of World Trade Organisation action Beijing launched on Thursday night.
The move came just days after Australia complained to the WTO about punitive wine tariffs which have hurt the bottom line of Australian producers and exports.
The WTO is also considering an Australian complaint about measures that effectively stopped barley exports to its biggest trading partner.
Senator Birmingham said the barley and wine decisions were appalling given no subsidies were given to Australian farmers.
“Our systems and our processes are strong ones and stand in contrast to the type of approach that was used in relation to China’s decision against our wine and barley industries,” he said.
Trade Minister Dan Tehan said anti-dumping measures were implemented based on a detailed analysis of Australian industry.
“We’ll robustly defend this dispute,” he told the ABC on Friday.
He said only the Chinese government could answer whether it was retaliation but noted the normal diplomatic convention of providing advance notice had not been followed.
“We say all the time that we want to sit down and work through these disputes. There may be things we can’t agree to, but the best thing is dialogue,” Mr Tehan said.
Mr Tehan refused to be drawn on whether China’s actions were an act of retaliation, but pointed out that some of the anti-dumping tariffs being targeted by China were introduced more than five years ago.