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Australia Requests WTO Panel on Korean Beef



22 June 1999

Australia Requests WTO Panel on Korean Beef Restrictions

Australia will request a World Trade Organisation dispute settlement panel to examine its complaint over import restrictions on Australian beef exports to the Republic of Korea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Tim Fischer, announced today.

The decision was taken after WTO-mandated consultations were held in late May.

"We are disappointed that our consultations with Korea in the WTO did not resolve the dispute and have decided to proceed to the panel stage of WTO dispute settlement," Mr Fischer said.

"South Korea is Australia's third largest export market for beef worth on average $140 million per annum. over the past five years. Australia is also Korea's second largest supplier. Access into the Korean market is therefore of long-term importance to Australia."

"In the course of our experience in the Korean market, we have encountered certain impediments that have limited our ability to compete fairly in the market. This has included the limitations on companies entitled to import and the separation of imported and domestic beef distribution channels."

"Although Australia has raised these issues with Korea, our concerns have not been addressed. Australia is also keen to ensure that Australian exports do not continue to face impediments when Korea moves to a tariff only regime in January 200l," Mr Fischer said.

Mr Fischer welcomed the strong support of the Australian beef industry for the government's decision and the industrys commitment to working closely with the Government in preparing for the panel process.

Australia will be placing its request for a panel on the agenda of the next meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body on 22 July. A panel has already been formed for a similar complaint by the United States and it is likely that the same panel could examine both complaints simultaneously.

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