Aust-US trade relationship an example: PM

Karen Sweeney
(Australian Associated Press)


Australia’s fair trade relationship with the US could be held up as an example of what President Donald Trump hopes to achieve with other nations, Malcolm Turnbull believes.

He says it’s balanced trade agreements between the two nations that secured Australia’s exemption from the United States’ 25 per cent tariffs on imported steel and not any promise of further military co-operation.

“The Australia-US trade relationship is a level playing field and one that the president is likely to hold up to other countries and say ‘that’s the sort of fair deal I’m looking to get’,” he told ABC’s 7.30 on Monday.

While Mr Trump promoted the exemption on Twitter as a “security agreement” Mr Turnbull maintains that’s just shorthand for the legal proclamation to bring the exemption into force.

He’s denied trade and security have been tied together under the deal.

“We have our economic relationship, we have our security relationship,” he said.

“We don’t make economic decisions based on security, you know, on a military commitment to somewhere.”

Earlier Mr Turnbull had ruled out Australia joining an international revolt against the steel tariff or a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium.

While some countries in the World Trade Organisation may be considering action, Mr Turnbull said the exemption meant Australia did not have a basis to bring a complaint.

Labor finance spokesman Jim Chalmers says steel destined for the US from other countries will now be dumped below cost in Australia.

“Sometimes that steel is dumped for ridiculously low prices and that smashes our local businesses, our local industry and our local workers,” Mr Chalmers told Sky News.

“Our anti-dumping regime is weaker than other countries, and it’s insufficiently resourced.”

But Mr Turnbull says Australia has a strong anti-dumping regime and it is prepared for steel imports.

‘We have beefed ours up. We’ve given our Anti-Dumping Commission stronger powers. We have given them more money,” he said.

Australia recently imposed steel tariffs on Greece, Thailand, Indonesia, Spain and Taiwan, while Labor wants the government to triple the penalties for dumping products into the Australian market.

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