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State Ministers On Lamb Tariffs

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER FOR TRADE

TIM FISCHER

9 July 1999

State and Territory Ministers Joined the Federal Government in Condemning the US Decision to Impose Restrictions on Australian Lamb Exports

At the National Trade Consultations Ministerial Forum in Darwin today, the Trade Ministers passed a unanimous resolution condemning the outbreak of protectionism in the US on the lamb issue.

The US decision limits lamb imports to 32,000 metric tonnes (1998 levels) and imposes a tariff of 9% - with a prohibitive out of quota tariff of 40%.

The Acting Prime Minister, the Hon Tim Fischer, said State and Territory Ministers abhorred the lack of justice and fairness in the decision.

'The only crime unsubsidised and efficient Australian lamb producers are guilty of is creating a market in the US for a high quality product at a competitive price.

'This US action is hypocritical and is completely inconsistent with US free trade rhetoric. This really is a lose/lose action by the US. It punishes both Australian producers and US consumers and will do nothing to solve the problems of US sheep farmers.'

Mr Fischer said that Australia would protest this decision at the highest level, including conveying Australia's deep concern about the decision to President Clinton when the Prime Minister meets him next Monday.

Mr Fischer also confirmed Australia has today lodged a formal request in Geneva to commence WTO consultations. This will trigger a meeting with US Trade Representatives, which Australia proposes to be held this week.

LAMB RESOLUTION - CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

'This meeting condemns the total lack of justice and fairness with the decision of the US to impose barriers on Australian lamb exports, supports the Australian and New Zealand Governments in taking action in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and welcomes the effective halving of the lamb transaction levy by the Federal Government.'

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