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Lamb Tariff Unacceptable - Prime Minister

Thursday 8 July 1999


The United States' decision to impose lamb import tariffs is totally unacceptable and will lead to World Trade Organisation action, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

"New Zealanders are angry and deeply disappointed at a decision that will, in effect, be a tax on our lamb exporters. The US decision will for the next three years limit our exports and prevent our non-subsidised industry from further developing the US lamb market.

"US lamb growers, whose shortsighted protectionism led to calls for safeguards, will gain nothing from an outcome that stifles both market growth and consumer choice.

"It is difficult to take any comfort from the US decision except that the outcome could have been much worse," said Mrs Shipley.

New Zealand exports worth over $140 million last year could have been stopped overnight if the more prohibitive restrictions sought by American sheep interests had been introduced.

Mrs Shipley said that intensive lobbing by the New Zealand and Australian governments, Meat New Zealand, and industry and farming leaders, have together rolled back the worst of the damage.

"Our arguments were given considerable weight at the most senior levels of the US administration and I have no doubt helped them to reject domestic US lobbying for even heavier trade restrictions. New Zealand left no stone unturned in our lobbying.

"For all that we are deeply disappointed that trade restraints have been introduced. The outcome unfairly penalises our industry. New Zealand cannot and will not let the matter rest.

"We have immediately started active consideration of our WTO options. We will be working closely with Australia on any action that will be taken," said Mrs Shipley.


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