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Howard Interview On Washington

9 July 1999



John Howard is set to arrive in Washington tomorrow and is expected to confront President Clinton on the lamb issue next week. The Prime Minister told Matt Peacock in Tokyo that Washington is guilty of double standards.


The United States is constantly encouraging people and exhorting people to support open trade. They condemn others who donÆt practise open trade but when it suits their own convenience, because they are the strongest country in the world, they just slam on these punitive tariffs. Now, in the end we can but complain and help our own. WeÆll take them to the World Trade Organisation. WeÆll use all the rules that are available and weÆll invoke all the rules against them, which we have a perfect right to do, and weÆll help our own as best we can. And I say to the lamb producers, weÆll try and help you because you have been very unfairly treated.


At the end of the day the free trade stuff is rhetoric, at the end of the day might is right.


Well, on this particular issue common-sense has not prevailed, that doesnÆt mean to say you donÆt keep trying because we are better off now than we would have been if some of the markets that we have won over the past few years had not been prized open. And even though weÆve suffered a severe setback on this issue, and we have every right to complain, on other fronts, for example, we are supplying something like 30 per cent of the beef market here in Japan. Now, thatÆs something we werenÆt doing a few years ago and we wouldnÆt have won that if we hadnÆt have campaigned for more liberal trade. So, because weÆve had a set back it doesnÆt mean to say we donÆt keep trying.


Is this compensation package that youÆre offering the lamb industry a one-off or would you be prepared to offer it to any other efficient Australian industry?


IÆm not giving any open-ended, on-the-run commitments. ThatÆs silly. IÆm dealing with a quite specific situation where this industry won a market. ItÆs won it without any government help. WeÆre not here talking about helping a failing, inefficient Australian industry. WeÆre talking about helping an industry thatÆs played by the rules of open, vigorous trade, won a market and then been unfairly clobbered. Now, according to all the understandings of Australian fair play those people are entitled to a bit of help and thatÆs what weÆre going to do.


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