Lamb failure is Shipley's failure - Labour
Labour Leader Helen Clark and Labour agriculture spokesperson Jim Sutton say it appears the government has failed dismally to protect the interests of New Zealand farmers, amid growing signs that tariffs will be imposed on lamb exports to the United States.
"Such action by the United States would be extremely hostile. If reports that President Clinton is about to agree to a 9 per cent tariff are correct, it would mean a comprehensive failure for our government's diplomatic and trade policies.
"It is nonsense for the Prime Minister to suggest today that New Zealand has lobbied effectively to protect our farmers' interests.
"Trade Minister Lockwood Smith's inept handling of this matter has set up New Zealand for an outcome even worse than the gloomiest projections.
"Dr Smith's suggestion early in the negotiations - that the recommendation in favour of tariffs from the United States International Trade Commission represented a good outcome - contributed to the impending poor result. Dr Smith essentially turned a worst case scenario into a best case scenario, and now New Zealand farmers face something even worse.
"Despite the Prime Minister's boasts about the government's record in this area, it is clear she comes out of this issue very poorly.
"Just a few months ago following a visit to Washington, she was claiming that a free trade agreement with the US was on the agenda.
"Now she must explain to farmers why, instead, protectionist tariffs are about to be imposed on their products by a supposed free trade ally.
"If President Clinton does agree to impose the new barriers on New Zealand lamb, then together with Australia we should urgently investigate taking a case to the World Trade Organisation's disputes committee," Helen Clark and Jim Sutton said.