Lockwood Smith To Oppose Trade Restrictions In Washington

  • Lockwood Smith

Trade and Tourism Minister Lockwood Smith arrives in Washington DC today to register New Zealand's strong objection to the International Trade Commission's (ITC) recent recommendations to impose a tariff rate quota on imports of New Zealand lamb.

The final decision on the ITC recommendations will be made by US President Bill Clinton on the advice of a special inter-agency committee and the US Ambassador in New Zealand. The President is expected to announce his decision in early June 1999.

"The New Zealand Government objects strongly to the trade restrictive measures recommended by the ITC," said Dr Smith.

"The ITC recommendations would penalise New Zealand producers for successfully marketing a quality product to consumers in the United States, and I'm determined to see the recommendations overturned.

"New Zealand has acknowledged the significant challenges facing the US sheep meat industry, but we do not accept that trade barriers will assist the industry to face up to these challenges.

"The meat industries of New Zealand and Australia have developed a very positive and constructive proposal to work with the US sheep meat industry to create substantial additional demand for lamb in the US as a high value, consumer-friendly product able to compete effectively with other meats.

"I'm certain that the US is not excited by the prospect of restricting fair and efficient trade in a case where there is no actual injury.

"A trade restrictive outcome would do very real harm to the shared goal of trade liberalisation and to other countries that engage in fair and efficient trade practices, particularly in a year when the US will host the WTO Ministerial that is likely to lead to a new negotiating round.

"The alternative is much more satisfactory. The joint proposal from the New Zealand and Australian industries offers a positive cooperative approach that would deliver real benefits to the US sheep meat industry well into the future and eliminate the need for trade restrictions," said Dr Smith.

Dr Smith's programme in Washington DC includes a full day of calls on key decision-makers within the inter-agency process, including United States Trade Representative Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Stanley Roth, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Richard Rominger, Under Secretary for International Trade within the Department of Commerce Ambassador David Aaron and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Senator William Roth.

Dr Smith's visit to Washington DC follows a trade mission to the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The visit to Washington DC, originally planned for May 1999, has been brought forward to ensure that New Zealand's arguments have maximum impact while advice to President Clinton is being formulated.