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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26225

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (8:52 PM) —In the spirit of goodwill and cooperation and all those sorts of things I will try to be helpful. The point I want to make to Senator Nettle and Senator Brown is that under the terms of the agreement we have to verify compliance with the rule, whether or not a US customs officer attends with the Australian verification officer. That is why I say that the US customs officer is a different issue. As consent is required from the occupier, it does not seem to me to be of great consequence. I am happy to acknowledge I am not an expert in these things, but I am advised that our industry was fully aware of the yarn forward rule of origin and it is able to meet the requirement in some cases. Where it cannot, industry requested phasing out our tariff over a long term, to 2015, which has been matched by the US. I am told that it is true that our industry sources its supplies mainly from South-East Asia and that it is unlikely to change supply arrangements to meet the yarn forward rule of origin, but the trade in textiles, clothing and footwear to the US is small and our industry is mainly interested in other markets. In relation to the US, our industry was mostly interested in Australia's securing appropriate safeguards against a high volume of imports. The government was successful in securing a textile specific safeguard in the agreement.