Commerce Minister and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi rejected New Zealand Steel's second application to get duties imposed on imported Chinese steel products, saying they have minimal government subsidies and aren't being dumped on the local market.
Faafoi chose not to impose anti-dumping duties on steel reinforcing bar and coil from China and Malaysia, finding the products weren't being dumped in New Zealand, and separately found Chinese subsidies on those products to be "de minimis levels" meaning they weren't causing material injury to domestic rivals. The March 3 decisions were published in the government's New Zealand Gazette today.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment started investigating the products after getting an application from Australian-owned New Zealand Steel last year with enough evidence to warrant a probe.
The ministry's early work found no grounds to impose provisional measures, which needed "reasonable cause" to believe Chinese subsidies were causing material injury to local industry.
MBIE's preliminary investigation reports said it needed "to establish to a higher standard of proof that dumped imports are causing material injury" to recommend imposing duties.
The application was NZ Steel's second, with the local unit of ASX-listed BlueScope Steel last year seeking to have duties imposed on Chinese imports of galvanised steel. Former Commerce Minister Jacqui Dean, on the advice from MBIE, turned down that application, which NZ Steel is appealing via a judicial review in the High Court.
MBIE's final report into the earlier 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.
Chinese steel exports have been a bone of contention around the world as US and European producers accused the Asian nation's subsidies and overproduction of undercutting their local industries, and last week US President Donald Trump announced plans to impose a 25 per cent tariff on imported steel in an effort to support American industry and deliver on his Make America Great Again rhetoric during his 2016 presidential campaign.