Australian-owned New Zealand Steel has asked the High Court for a judicial review of the decision by the former Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs not to impose countervailing duties on imports of galvanised steel coil from China.
That decision was made in July this year, following an investigation by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment which found that Chinese subsidies on galvanised steel coil imports were too small to have injured the domestic industry.
The local market is dominated by NZ Steel, which cried foul about the Chinese government help last year.
This morning, a defended interlocutory hearing between Bluescope-owned NZ Steel and the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs was held in Wellington High Court. The hearing was in chambers, meaning media and the public were excluded.
An MBIE spokesperson confirmed that NZ Steel lodged an application for a judicial review of the former minister's decision in September, but said that as the matter is currently before the courts, MBIE is unable to comment any further. NZ Steel did not respond to a request for comment.
MBIE's final report on NZ Steel's first complaint found Chinese imports were undercutting NZ Steel prices, but that it couldn't be blamed on government support for Chinese manufacturers, which was minimal at most.
In October, MBIE made public the fact that it was taking a fresh look at claims Chinese steel imports are being dumped in the local market after NZ Steel again complained it is being unfairly undercut by Asian rivals.
Then-Commerce Minister Jacqui Dean signed off on the investigations on August 15, a week before the parliament was dissolved for the general election, and the public notice was issued on August 24.
In the latest case, MBIE said it was satisfied the complainant had provided enough evidence that reinforcing steel bar and coil (rebar) from China and Malaysia is being dumped in New Zealand, and that it is doing material injury to the local industry, along with sufficient evidence about rebar subsidisation from China.
Those investigations must be completed within 180 days and should be wrapped up around March 3, 2018.
After its investigation, MBIE will make a recommendation to the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Kris Faafoi, who then makes a final determination on the investigation, including whether to impose duties.