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Tuesday, 10 September 1985
Page: 353

Senator Button —On 27 May 1985 (Hansard, page 2493) Senator Archer asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Trade, the following question, without notice:

Does the Government see the United States farm export plan due to be introduced from 1 June 1985, which is aimed at being a retaliatory move to recapture markets taken by the European Economic Community, as producing a situation likely to present a real threat to Australia's rural exports?

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

While understanding the frustrations which led to this Program, the Government is concerned about the effect which the US Export Enhancement Program may have on Australia's exports of particular agricultural commodities. These concerns have been transmitted to the President of the United States and taken up during Ministerial discussions with the US Secretaries for Agriculture and State. We have received assurances from the US Administration that the Program is targeted only against subsidised exporters and that Australia's interests will be taken into account in implementing the Program.

Although the Program is to be carefully targeted at markets lost by the United States as a result of unfair subsidised competition, it will be difficult to contain the effects of the Program to the targeted markets. It would appear inevitable that the price of targeted commodities will be depressed and that competition will intensify when subsidised exporters are displaced from markets.

The Government will be monitoring implementation of the Program and will be maintaining close contact with the United States Government on the implications of the Program for Australia and our interest in particular markets.

One of the objectives of the Program is to pressure subsidising exporters to engage in negotiations for greater discipline on agricultural trading practices. Should the Program succeed in achieving this, it will have served a useful purpose.