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Tomato taxes tightened

Some Italian tomatoes will be slapped with import duties of up to 26 per cent for the next five years following final ministerial approval.

DARREN LINTON April 19, 2014 4:45am

Interim tariffs were already in place, but Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Industry Minister Bob Baldwin formally accepted the Anti-Dumping Commission recommendations in full this week.

The commission found in the last financial year 54000 tonnes of tinned tomatoes came in from Italy and 56 per cent, or about 30000 tonnes, was dumped product.

As a result, Goulburn Valley fruit processor SPC Ardmona’s market share fell 13 per cent, while Italian produce gained a further 16.4 per cent of sales.

More than 90 Italian exporters will have dumping duties of between four per cent and 26 per cent imposed, but the two biggest will not.

La Doria SpA and Feger di Gerardo Ferraioli, which account for 45 per cent of Italian tomatoes imported into Australia, were found to be landing goods within acceptable limits.

While interim duties have been in place since November 1 last year, Italian exporters may be forced to back pay a dumping duty to the Australian Government.

The investigation started on July 10 in response to an application SPC Ardmona lodged, which suggested its business had been injured through price suppression, reduced profitability and lower sales volume.

SPC Ardmona managing director Peter Kelly said the company had been asking the government to implement tighter anti-dumping trade measures to defend Australian companies against cheap imported products.

‘‘We welcome the announcement that anti-dumping tariffs have now been applied to the majority of Italian canned tomato exporters to Australia,’’ Mr Kelly said.

‘‘While SPC is pleased this action has been taken, we intend to discuss with the minister’s office and the Anti-Dumping Commission concerns we still have in regard to our belief that this action is not as strong as it should have been had the commission taken a tougher stand in doing its analysis.’’

Industry group Ausveg is calling on the government to use the dumping duty collected to support Australian growers and processors injured by predatory pricing.

‘‘The announcement vindicates the Australian industry which has been struggling to compete on a playing field which in no way could be considered level,’’ Ausveg spokesman Hugh Gurney said.

‘‘With 93 per cent of tomatoes imported into Australia originating in Italy, this announcement will serve to discourage those exporters who refuse to play by the rules.’’

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