The Australian government's plan to abolish tariff concessions on imports could cost the country's plastic and chemicals industries A$160 million (US$124.5 million) a year, said Robert Bryce, commercial manager of Austral-ia's Plastics & Chemicals Indus-tries' Association. Bryce said the planned 5 percent duty on the value of imported raw materials from July 1 will significantly increase costs for Australian plastics companies.
Australia imports A$6.5 billion (US$5.1 billion) of resins and chemicals annually, and North America is a major supplier, although no figures are available for the quantity of industry exports from individual markets.
Bryce said if the additional costs could not be absorbed, Australian firms would either pass the costs to end-users or cut back on raw material imports, even though the imports were not available in Australia.
Michael MacKellar, PACIA chief executive officer, said the ``severe attack'' on imports was designed to protect industries that do not exist in Australia.
Bryce said the decision to abolish Australia's long-standing tariff concession system was an-nounced, without consultation, by the country's Labor government in February. He said Australia's new coalition government, elected in March, supported the previous government's plan, but was consulting with industry before it went ahead with the tariff cuts.
A PACIA group is lobbying against the plan. The group includes officials from Mel-bourne-based Huntsman Chem-ical Co. Australia Ltd., which is managed and 50 percent owned by Huntsman Chemical Corp. of Salt Lake City; Melbourne-based GE Plastics and Australia Pty. Ltd.
Bryce said many North Amer-ican plastic firms have plants in Australia, but the proposed duty could affect further investment.
MacKellar said the duty indicated to international investors that Australia was ``no longer an attractive place to invest.''