TRADE MINISTER MEETS SOUTHLAND MAYORS

  • Lockwood Smith
Trade

Trade Minister Lockwood Smith met today with Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno, Invercargill City Mayor Tim Shadbolt and Gore District Mayor Mary Ogg and local Member of Parliament Eric Roy.

The Mayors were in Wellington to participate in the Federated Farmers' protest over the possibility of United States trade restrictions against New Zealand and Australian lamb exports.

Dr Smith received the Mayors and Eric Roy in his office this morning. The Mayors handed over a joint letter and a letter from Peter Phiskie, Provincial President for Federated Farmers in Southland.

"I'm pleased to see that Southland Mayors are supporting their local farmers," said Dr Smith.

"We do not accept that trade restrictions against New Zealand lamb exports to the United States will address the real challenges facing the US sheep meat industry. The New Zealand and Australian meat industries have put together a very constructive proposal to develop the market for lamb in the US, but a large part of the American sheep industry has turned its back on our approach.

"As Trade Minister I've left no stone unturned in my efforts to ensure that the United States understands the importance of this issue to New Zealand. I've been working closely with Australian Trade Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, and put our case strongly to the key decision-makers within the US Government.

"I applaud the Southland Mayors and Peter Phiskie for their unqualified support for farmers on this issue. I will fight the introduction of trade barriers against our lamb producers right to the wire, and in the event that the US President selects a restrictive approach, we will consider all options, including an action in the World Trade Organisation," Dr Smith concluded.