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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 1937

(Question No. 1603)

Senator Macklin asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice, on 17 February 1987:

(1) Can the Minister for Trade advise the Senate of the status of discussions between Australia and the US on that country's decision to impose a 0.227 percent across-the-board customs levy on all imports.

(2) How does the Government intend to resolve this matter and what are the Government's options under GATT for dealing with this matter.

Senator Button —The Minister for Trade has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Customs User Fee of 0.22 percent ad valorem imposed by the US from 1 December 1986 will cost Australian exporters about $A7m per annum. Australia has made strong representations to the United States Administration, through the Australian Embassy in Washington, pointing out that the fee is disproportionate to any service provided by the US and impacts unduly on bulk commodity exporters such as Australia.

(2) The Australian Government joined with the Governments of Canada, the European Community, Japan and other countries in GATT consultations with the United States in December 1986. The Australian submission stated that we consider the fee inconsistent with US obligations under Article VIII.1 (A) and Article II.2 (C) of the GATT and noted that the fee impairs tariff bindings previously entered into by the United States. As the consultations proved inconclusive, it is expected that a panel will be formed to examine the issue. Australia will support the establishment of such a panel.