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Transcript of interview Dr John Hewson, Leader of the Opposition Washington, USA - AM, ABC Radio

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Leader of the Opposition

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11 July 1991 REF: TRANSCR\al\00002



SUBJECTS: G Seven Summit, Uruguay Round, GATT, US/Australia agricultural exports, Government's confused signals


Well now back to the busy John Hewson who's in Washington. The Opposition Leader has joined the Prime Minister in urging world leaders to push for trade reform at next week's G seven summit in London. Dr Hewson says the meeting presents an opportunity to kick along the stalled Uruguay Round of GATT.

After talks with American leaders, including President Bush, Dr Hewson says he's convinced that the best chance for trade reform lies in the GATT process.

As Dr Hewson prepared for a meeting with Edward Madigan,

America's Secretary for Agriculture, he revealed to Anne McCaig the case he would be putting.


I will be putting to Secretary Madigan pretty much in expanded terms what I've been saying to President Bush and others here and that is, that although their focus is on Europe and the Common Agricultural policy, damage in their export enhancement scheme

is being done to Australia and to it's efficient agricultural producers. I will also be pointing out the fact that their

strong bi-partisan support for this position in Australia and also I will be pointing out that we're very concerned that damage is also being done to a political constituency in Australia,

namely the * 1 rural sector, that has been traditionally very supportive of the Australian/US alliance. I've also emphasised that in these circumstances, I think two things really need to be done. .



Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600 Phone 277 4022

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We need to put maximum pressure on the Uruguay Round seeking a successful outcome of that Round and I've urged that be given a kick along in the forthcoming G Seven Summit in London. And, of course, now that the Americans have offered consultation in relation to the export enhancement program, I think it is very

important that we take advantage of that so we can minimise any discomfort in the relationship as a result of what they've been doing. And the focal point there, of course, has been the recent Kuwait wheat sale, the details of which I believe need



What signals have you been getting after your talks in

Washington. Any indications that the United States will push for a clear statement on trade reform at the G Seven meeting?


I think it will be raised at the G Seven and I have had varying responses to be honest. It's very hard for G Seven to make a

substantive move in that respect, but clearly, they do have an opportunity to give it a kick along.


It would be a great help, though to the Uruguay Round, wouldn't it?


I don't deny that. I've put the case very strongly that I think that every opportunity should be taken. The next opportunity is the G Seven and that's the place which to give it a kick along and I'm very keen to see substantial progress in the GATT. I haven't given up on GATT, and a lot of people here haven't given up on GATT. There's a lot of pressure in Europe. Germany is

probably the key in that respect. I think keeping maximum

pressure on them at every opportunity is the best hope we've got of bringing out a substantial result under the GATT.


Are you confident there will be some kind statement on trade reform at the G Seven meeting?


I'm hopeful that will be the qase.

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The United States is now involved in bilateral negotiations with Mexico and Canada and back home here Senator John Button says "Australia should switch its emphasis from multilateral to bilateral agreements." Is that what Australia should be doing?


Look, I don't think that these confusing signals from the

Australian Government are very helpful. Our first priority in international economics today is getting a substantial outcome in the GATT. I have, however, talked with the US administration about an idea we've been pushing which is using APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation Forum as a base for joint

US/Australian pressure to reduce tariff and other trade

restrictions in the Asia/Pacific region. I think there are organisations like that where both the United States and

Australia can play a very useful role but that would be entirely consistent with the GATT process.

I think the last thing that we could afford to do at the present time is to encourage the world to break up into trading blocks where there is a degree of exclusivity where they close out the rest of the world, if you like, or other blocks from their block

and that sort of thinking is pretty woolly headed, particularly in circumstances where we're coming down to the wire in relation to the GATT. It's our best chance to make substantial progress - we should keep maximum pressure on the Europeans in particular

to give ground, particularly in agricultural protectionism - and we'll certainly be putting that case in London and in Brussels later this week.


The Opposition Leader, John Hewson, speaking from Washington to Anne McCaig.