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Tuesday, 15 October 2002
Page: 5220


Senator O'Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, upon notice, on 15 August 2002:

(1) What actions, if any, did the Minister take before 9 August 2002 to encourage the United States of America (US) to increase the beef quota allocation available to Australian beef exporters.

(2) What actions, if any, has the Minister taken since 9 August 2002 to encourage the US to increase the beef quota allocation available to Australian beef exporters.

(3) What actions, if any, does the Minister propose to take to encourage the US to increase the beef quota allocation available to Australian beef exporters.


Senator Ian Macdonald (Minister for Forestry and Conservation) —The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) to (3) The Government has been lobbying the US Administration for increased market access for Australian beef. The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry raised the matter in discussions with Mr Chuck F. Connor, Special Assistant to the President for Agricultural Trade and Food Assistance while in Washington on 10 December 2001. Following this meeting Minister Truss wrote to Mr Connor, requesting an increase in beef quota access to the US, especially the agreement of the US Government to a one-off increase to the US 2002 calendar year beef quota for which Australia could compete for an increased market volume. The Minister raised the matter with US Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman at the Quint Meeting, Kyoto, Japan in January 2002, and again at the July 2002, Quint Meeting, Nara, Japan.

On 15 October 2001, the Government made a formal request to US authorities for increased access for Australian beef to the US market. The Government has also made tariff rate quota expansion and the reduction of out-of-quota tariffs a key priority in the WTO agriculture negotiations. The Minister for Trade raised this issue with US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick during his visit to Washington in January 2002, and during the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Mexico in May 2002. The Minister for Trade also raised this issue with Deputy US Trade Representative Peter Allgeier during the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris in May 2002.

The Prime Minister raised the beef quota issue with US Administration officials and Congressmen during his 8-15 June 2002 visit to the United States. On 4 August 2002, the Prime Minister also wrote to Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, on trade issues and sought more open access for Australian beef exports. Pursuing this matter with the US Administration will remain a high priority for the Government.