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New Zealand To Seek Removal Of US Tariffs On Lamb

New Zealand would request an immediate end to the tariffs on NZ and Australian lamb at a public hearing on the lamb in Washington, Acting Trade Negotiations Minister Paul Swain said today.

Paul Swain said Ambassador Bolger would speak at the hearing on behalf of the New Zealand Government.

"He will make a strong case calling for an end to the tariffs on our lamb exports to the United States. The Australian Government, and the lamb industries in both countries are also participating in the review."

The hearing is being held as part of a mid-term review of the safeguard measure President Clinton imposed on lamb imports in July 1999. The US International Trade Commission is required under US trade law to review the safeguard measure to see whether it has been effective in helping the US lamb industry adjust to import competition.

Paul Swain said the review was an entirely separate exercise from the World Trade Organisation dispute settlement case New Zealand and Australia are pursuing against the United States.

"That process is continuing independently in order to achieve the same result: the removal of the trade restrictions on our lamb," he said.

Paul Swain said that the tariffs on lamb imports had clearly done nothing to help the long-term viability of the US lamb industry and there was therefore no justification for keeping them.

"We said all along that the tariffs would do nothing to help the US lamb industry. Economic data made available by the ITC itself shows that the US industry has continued to decline. The US industry is in no better position now than when the tariffs were imposed, despite having the import relief it wanted.

"I expect that the American industry will argue equally robustly at the hearing to keep the tariff restraints.

"But with the economic evidence against it, the US lamb industry will be hard pressed to satisfy the ITC that it has made good use of the period of import relief to improve its competitive position."

The ITC Commissioners' report on the safeguard measure is due with the new President and Congress by 21 January 2001. The President must then decide whether the measure should be retained, modified, extended or terminated.

Paul Swain said that the review process would not allow for an outcome until well into next year.

"Meanwhile the Minister for Trade Negotiations is continuing to take every opportunity to impress upon his American counterparts how unacceptable New Zealand found the decision to impose the safeguard measure in the first place."

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