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Transcript of the Treasurer, the hon John Dawkins MP on the "world today", ABC radio



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TRANSCRIPT OF THE TREASURER, THE HON JOHN DAWKINS MP, ON THE "WORLD TODAY", ABC RADIO - MONDAY, 21 SEPTEMBER 1992

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PALFREYMAN: Federal Treasurer John Dawkins is in Washington as part of the World Bank and IMF meetings of foreign ministers. He has also met, at the White House, with President George Bush as the American leader outlined to visiting finance minister his hopes of finding a solution to the present trade wars

with Europe. A short while ago I asked Mr Dawkins how far the French referendum results on Maastricht dominated the meetings of finance ministers in Washington today.

DAWKINS: Well I think it was very much in the back of everyone's mind in the early part of the discussions and, obviously, it was very much on the minds of the G7 ministers when they met yesterday. I think when the result became clear there was a kind of collective sigh of relief that the process of

European integration would continue.

PALFREYMAN: So how confident were the European ministers that they can hold the Maastricht Treaty together?

DAWKINS: Oh well, I mean, I think the process of European integration would have proceeded even if there had been a 'No' vote in France. I think the fact that there has been a 'Yes' vote means that the Maastricht Treaty will now be ratified. I think that is the view, that it will be ratified by all of the

countries of Europe and that, of course, will give a quite clear direction for the development of political and economic affairs within Europe.

PALFREYMAN: And you have also been at the White House meeting today for visiting finance ministers. What were you able to tell President Bush of Australia's concern about the wider trends in world trade and, of course, the agriculture war between the United States and Europe?

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DAWKINS: The President indicated that he understood Australia's concerns about the extension of EEP. He understood the basis of Australia's criticism of that. He was very much aware of the Prime Minister's protests and we discussed the fact that, of course, this was very much a question of the contest

between the Americans and the Europeans in the agriculture area and the importance of resolving this matter permanently by fixing up the GATT Round, finalising the GATT Round.

PALFREYMAN: But the President didn’t hold out any hope of some sort of practical easing of the pain for Australia?

DAWKINS: Oh well, I mean, as you know the standard American position has been that it is not intended to affect Australia. It is a response to Europe and I think we are at one with them in terms of recognising that the Europeans are the prime culprits in the distortion and the corruption of

agricultural trade and the best way of resolving that matter is to finalise the GATT Round, get a commitment to the reduction in Europe of export subsidies and give Australian farmers, and any other competitive farmers, an opportunity to compete fairly on world markets.

PALFREYMAN: Well that was a diplomatic reception at the White House this afternoon. Could we perhaps expect some harder speaking when you are meeting with US Trade Representative Carla Hills in Washington tomorrow?

DAWKINS: Yes, well John Kerin and I will be meeting with the US Trade Representative tomorrow and I am sure there will be some fairly plain speaking about these matters. But we have also got to bear in mind, of course, that the Americans and Australia are very much at one about the way in which

this matter should be dealt with internationally. But we will, of course, be making plain our protests about the action that the Americans have taken recently.

PALFREYMAN: But on a bilateral basis, would it be true to say that there is very little we can do with the United States until the Presidential election is over in November?

DAWKINS: Well I think the fact that the President is conscious of our concerns as he was when he came to Australia at the end of last year, the beginning of this year. The fact that he is conscious of our concerns, our protests, and so on. I think the fact that he has an eye out for Australia is an

important recognition of our position and we just have to continue to say to the Americans that whatever they are doing in their contest with the Europeans, they have got to keep Australia's interests uppermost in their minds and make sure that we are not caught in the crossfire.

ENDS