Safeguard inquiries referred to Productivity Commission

Joint media release:

  • The Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP, Minister for Trade and Competitiveness
  • The Hon David Bradbury MP, Assistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting on Deregulation

21 June 2013

The Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury and the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness Craig Emerson today announced that the Productivity Commission would undertake separate safeguard inquiries into the impact of imports of processed fruit and tomatoes on Australian producers.

The inquiries follow a request by SPC Ardmona to introduce safeguards measures against imports of canned tomatoes and multi-serve canned fruit products.

SPC Ardmona is one of Australia's largest food processors, employing more than 800 full-time-equivalent staff directly, and makes a substantial contribution to the economy of the Goulburn Valley.

As a World Trade Organization (WTO) Member, Australia has made binding commitments in relation to the trade of goods and services.

The WTO Safeguards Agreement allows Members to investigate whether safeguard measures are justified. Following an investigation by the Productivity Commission, WTO rules allow safeguard measures to be applied to respond to unexpected and unforeseen increases in imports which are causing or threatening to cause serious injury to the domestic industry.

The Productivity Commission is Australia's competent authority to investigate whether safeguard measures are justified under WTO rules.

It will conduct the inquiries in accordance with Australia's safeguards procedures. Australia will notify the WTO and relevant trading partners of these investigations.

As well as investigating whether there are grounds for definitive safeguard measures, the Commission has also been asked to provide an accelerated report examining whether critical circumstances exist to justify provisional safeguard measures.

The Commission is to provide the accelerated report to the Government as soon as practicable and, in any event, within three months.

Mr Paul Barratt AO has been appointed as an Associate Commissioner to the inquiries. Mr Barratt, an independent consultant and Chair of Australia 21 Limited, has more than 40 years' experience in policy advising and international negotiations.

His past appointments include Secretary of Defence and of Primary Industries and Energy; Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Special Trade Representative to North Asia; and Executive Director of the Business Council of Australia.

The Commission will seek expressions of interest from parties wishing to participate in the inquiry. All interested parties are invited to make a submission.

To register an interest in the inquiry or to find out more, details are available from the Commission at Terms of reference are attached.

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