Overseas Reaction To Lamb Tariffs
By Jonathan Hill
The new tariff slapped on Australian and New Zealand lamb exports to the United States is big news here but it is not headline news in the American press.
CNN today reported that American lamb producers were pleased with the new tariff but were critical of the delay and thought they deserved more of a break from President Clinton.
Lorin Moench, president of the American Sheep Industry Association, is reported as saying: "We would have liked to see somewhat higher tariffs, given the very low prices of imported lamb. but the key for us is that every pound of imported lamb will now incur a tariff, which should help firm up domestic prices.'"
CNN also reported that as part of the deal US lamb producers will receive $100 million of government money to help the industry develop methods to reduce operating costs and promote lamb in the United States so that US lamb will be in a better position to compete after the tariffs end.
"The package of import relief and domestic assistance has been carefully crafted to help our lamb industry achieve sustained competitiveness, while respecting our international trade obligations," a statement from the United States Trade Department said.
The American press has also carried news that both New Zealand and Australia are planning on taking America to the World Trade Organisation to challenge the decision.
"There is no rational foundation for the American decision," said Australian Prime Minister John Howard in a statement issued by the Australian Embassy in Washington. "I will convey Australia's deep concern about the decision when I see President Clinton next Monday."
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Australian government was taking swift action to ease the pressure on its lamb producers.
"We are in fact going to meet with the industry to work out further responses so they can deal with the situation," said Acting Prime Minister Tim Fischer.
"But as a next step the government will pay, for up to two years, the equivalent of half the transaction levy applying to the sale of all lambs in Australia, the reduction, in effect of that levy.
"The costing of this particular proposal will be up to $10 million over these next two critical years," he said.
Both New Zealand and Australia would be calling in their American diplomats to register their disapproval.