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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 889

Senator ARCHER —I would like to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Is the Government aware of the practice known as reference pricing as it is used in other countries? Has the implication of its use been studied as it would be relevant to Australia's primary products such as frozen and processed vegetables, dairy produce, fresh and preserved fruit, fish, wine and timber, especially as the actual costs of imported goods cannot be accurately determined because of export and/or production incentives, or for other reasons?

Senator WALSH —I am aware of the use of the term 'reference pricing' in more than one context. But the context in which it is possibly best known and certainly most notorious I would think occurs in the European Economic Community's common agricultural policy, a policy which restricts our access to and promotes surplus production and export subsidisation in third country markets. There are also examples of similar stabilisational price or supporting arrangements in Japan, United States of America and a number of other countries including, I might add, to a limited extent Australia, although that term is not used by us. However, I am not sure what the purpose of the question is. I do not know whether Senator Archer believes that reference pricing is being used as part of a mechanism or a subterfuge for what is commonly called dumping goods in Australia. It is just not clear to me from his question whether he is referring to that.