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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 4088

(Question No. 4698)


Mr Hunt asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice, on 7 October 1986:

(1) What is the current level of European Community (EC) subsidy applied to major cheese lines exported to Australia.

(2) What were the corresponding subsidy levels in September 1985.

(3) Has there been any reduction of these subsidies since June 1986.

(4) What steps has the Government taken to seek a reduction of these subsidy payments by the EC.


Mr Dawkins —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) and (2) The European Community subsidy level applying to certain cheeses exported to Australia in September 1986 and in September 1985 are as follows:

Cheese Type

September

1986

ECU/100kg

September

1985

ECU/100kg

Blue Vein...

25.78

25.78

Cheddar...

90.52

32.37

Edam/Gouda/Havarti...

77.39

32.61

Colby/Monterey...

77.43

31.93

Territorials...

77.43

31.93

Other...

77.39

32.61

(3) No.

(4) Following a countervailing case brought by the Australian Dairy Industry Conference against EC cheese imports the European Community gave an undertaking (which was accepted by the Australian Government in November 1983) to reduce export refunds on certain cheeses initially by an amount corresponding to the Australian stabilisation levy on cheddar type cheeses. It also stated its objective of ensuring that the prices of these cheeses would not disturb the Australian market. On 16 May 1986 the European Community increased export subsidies on certain cheeses for shipment to Australia by up to 180%. This action was taken by the EC Commission after EC traders had complained that their share of the Australian market was being eroded as a result of the depreciation of the Australian dollar and the fact that export refunds had not been adjusted for a considerable time. The Australian Government sought formal consultations with the EC Commission on the issue under the provisions of the 1983 Undertaking. These were held in Brussels between Australian and EC Commission officials on 14 and 17 July and 6 and 7 October 1986. The matter was discussed during the Australia EC Ministerial meetings held in Canberra on 10 to 12 November 1986.