Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Friday, July 9, 1999 Published at 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK

Business: The Economy

Oz fury at US lamb ban

No one is keeping quiet about lamb imports

A major trade row has broken out between the United States and Australia and New Zealand over lamb imports.

World trade wars
President Bill Clinton said he was limiting lamb imports to 1998 levels, and imposing a punitive 40% tariff on any additional imports, in order to protect American sheep farmers.

But Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who is due to visit the United States next week, reacted with fury.

"They condemn others who don't practice open trade, but when it suits their own convenience because they are the strongest country in the world they just slam on these punitive tariffs," he said.

[ image: Anger at President Clinton in Australia]
Anger at President Clinton in Australia
And the Australian press roundly condemned the move, with the Sydney Daily Telegraph leading with the headline 'Damn Ewe'.

Australia has said it will take the US to the World Trade Organisation over the ban, which it says will cost jobs and cut farm income. Trade Minister Tim Fisher said:

"We should get angry, but it would nicer to get even. .. the only crime unsubsidised and efficient Australian lamb producers are guilty of is creating a market in the US for a high quality product at a competitive price."

Australia will also cut taxes for its lamb producers in order to cushion the blow.

It has been trying to diversify its lamb exports from the traditional dependence on the UK market.

Protectionist pressures

President Clinton, who is under increasing protectionist pressures at home, acted after the US International Trade Commission ruled that the vast increase in lamb meat was harming the domestic industry.

He also announced a $100m package of aid for sheep farmers.

"The package of import relief and domestic assistance has been carefully crafted to help our lamb industry achieve sustained competitiveness," said Presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart.

But the Australian Trade Minister warned that protectionism would backfire for US farmers.

"They are in fact sounding the death knell for their own lamb industry if they don't get export-oriented," Tim Fisher said.

Trade talks

The row comes as plans for a new round of trade talks are being drawn up in world capitals.

Australia has been a traditional ally of the United States in presssing for trade liberalisation in agriculture.

But the current dispute could add to the difficulties of reaching agreement in the so-called 'Millenium Round' of trade negotiations.

Australia has also, until now, been trying to play a key role in organising trade talks in the Asia-Pacific region ahead of a summit in the autumn.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

The Economy Contents

Relevant Stories

28 Jun 99 | The Economy
Apec fails on trade deal

29 Jun 99 | The Economy
WTO job share plan

26 May 99 | The Economy
World trade headaches grow

19 May 99 | The Economy
US beefs about Europe

Internet Links

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

United States Trade Representative

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Inquiry into energy provider loyalty

Brown considers IMF job

Chinese imports boost US trade gap

No longer Liffe as we know it

The growing threat of internet fraud

House passes US budget

Online share dealing triples

Rate fears as sales soar

Brown's bulging war-chest

Oil reaches nine-year high

UK unemployment falls again

Trade talks deadlocked

US inflation still subdued

Insolvent firms to get breathing space

Bank considered bigger rate rise

UK pay rising 'too fast'

Utilities face tough regulation

CBI's new chief named

US stocks hit highs after rate rise

US Fed raises rates

UK inflation creeps up

Row over the national shopping basket

Military airspace to be cut

TUC warns against following US

World growth accelerates

Union merger put in doubt

Japan's tentative economic recovery

EU fraud costs millions

CBI choice 'could wreck industrial relations'

WTO hails China deal

US business eyes Chinese market

Red tape task force

Websites and widgets

Guru predicts web surge

Malaysia's economy: The Sinatra Principle

Shell secures Iranian oil deal

Irish boom draws the Welsh

China deal to boost economy

US dream scenario continues

Japan's billion dollar spending spree