New Zealand And Australia United Against Threat Of Trade Restrictions

  • Lockwood Smith

New Zealand and Australia are united against the threat of trade restrictions on lamb imports to the US according to Trade Minister Lockwood Smith.

Dr Smith met with Australian Trade Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer met last night to discuss the threat of trade restrictions. The two Ministers are in Paris for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM).

"New Zealand and Australia object strongly to the recommendations of the US International Trade Commission (ITC), which involve trade restrictions against our exports of lamb to the US," said Dr Smith.

"Lamb prices in the US are reported to have increased by as much as 30 percent, and that's hardly the sort of price trend you'd expect in an industry apparently experiencing the threat of injury from imports.

"The situation calls for market development, not trade restrictions. 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.

"Ironically, the proposal has been rejected by the people it will help most, the American Sheep Industry. But we will continue to promote the proposal to the US Government.

"The US Administration must be aware that a trade restrictive outcome will do very real harm to the goal of trade liberalisation shared by New Zealand, Australia and the US, particularly in a year that the US will host the WTO Ministerial that is likely to lead to a new negotiating round.

"A tariff-quota will not address the root cause of the challenges facing the US sheep meat industry, and will impose costs on US consumers through reducing the competitiveness of lamb within the US market.

"Tim Fischer and I will raise our concerns with US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky at the meeting of the "Friends of the Round" in Budapest later this week, and I continue to articulate New Zealand's concerns to senior US officials involved with the development of recommendations to the US President.

"The Prime Minister has written to US President Bill Clinton emphasising the importance of this case to New Zealand.

"New Zealand farmers, the American Sheep Industry and the US Administration should make no mistake. New Zealand and Australia are totally united in our opposition to the recommendations of the ITC, and we will continue to fight trade restrictions against our lamb imports right up to the wire.

"In the event that the US President decides to proceed with trade restrictions, New Zealand and Australia will consider all options, including action in the WTO," Dr Smith concluded.