New Zealand Efforts On Lamb Will Go Right To The Wire

  • Lockwood Smith

New Zealand's efforts to overturn the imposition of US trade restrictions against imports of New Zealand lamb will go right to the wire according to Trade Minister Lockwood Smith.

Dr Smith has just returned to New Zealand from a "Friends of the New Round" meeting in Budapest, Hungary said that the meeting with other Trade Ministers provided an excellent opportunity for re-emphasising the importance of this case to New Zealand.

"Over the past week I've worked closely with the Australian Trade Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer and spoken to key decision-makers within the US Government," said Dr Smith.

"I had talks with US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky in Budapest, and personally contacted US Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, newly appointed Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Stu Eizenstat, Undersecretary for International Trade in Commerce David Aaron, and I will be calling Deputy Trade Representative Peter Sher, who is responsible for finalising the US Administration recommendation to the US President later this week.

"I'm absolutely determined to keep working on this issue, and will leave no room for doubt in the minds of my US counter-parts of the importance of this issue to New Zealand.

"Restricting imports of lamb from New Zealand would fly in the face of face of the US commitment to free trade. Trade restrictions will not address the problems facing the US sheep meat industry and would do very real harm to the goal of trade liberalisation shared by New Zealand, Australia and the US.

"New Zealand's position, which has been consistent throughout months of lobbying on this issue, is very clear. We will fight the introduction of trade restrictions against our lamb producers right to the wire, and in the event that the US President approves a punitive restriction, we will consider all options, including an action in the World Trade Organisation," Dr Smith concluded.