Australian Farmers Want Protection from Dumped European Chips
Australian potato farmers have pleaded with the Federal Government to stop cheap imports from flooding their market. Coronavirus lockdowns in Europe have created a glut of potatoes estimated to be 2.6 million tons and growing, according to European growers associations.
Farmers and factories are concerned these potatoes will be dumped in Australia in the form of cheap potato chips, with Australian potato growers supplying three-quarters of the domestic market.
The European Union has pledged EUR50m to help their industries clear the glut of potatoes and prepare for next year’s crop, while the Tasmanian industry is already experiencing one of its most challenging seasons with rain causing rot and damage to the state’s potato crop.
AUSVEG, the industry’s peak representative body, has asked the Federal Government to use emergency powers such as Article XXI of the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It said these powers allow Australia to impose regulations in times of emergency.
“These are extraordinary times and we want the Minister to give some sort of assurance to us, that the government will do whatever it can to protect Australian growers from dumped product,” AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside said.
Whiteside said traditional anti-dumping claims would take too long and warned the entire domestic industry was at risk.
“The [Australian] processors won’t be able to clear their inventory and they won’t be able to compete with substantially subsidized products,” he said.
Whiteside stressed that the importance of domestic food and supply chain security has been highlighted by the pandemic. “And here we have a perfectly well operating market that just needs to be protected from dumped products,” Whiteside said.
Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said, “We are not aware of any compelling evidence at this time to back-up these claims, but we are continuing to discuss the matter with AUSVEG.”