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Australia and US to progress negotiations on lamb issue.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Media release

Australian Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile

Wednesday, 15 August 2001 / MVT110/2001

Australia and US to Progress Negotiations on Lamb Issue

Australia has agreed to a United States request to allow more time to progress negotiations to resolve the lamb dispute, according to Trade Minister Mark Vaile.

“Australia and the US will intensify negotiations over the next two weeks on the timeframe for elimination of the tariff quota on Australian lamb exports,” Mr Vaile said.

“Under the agreement Australia has reserved the right to seek arbitration and the US has committed to continue discussions until 31 August on a timeframe to remove its measures on Australian exports. 

“Australia and the US also agreed that any later arbitration process would conclude by 30 September, the same date that arbitration proceedings would have concluded if initiated on 14 August.  This means Australia loses no more time even if we opt for arbitration at a later date.

“Australia has always maintained that constructive negotiation would resolve the lamb issue after the WTO ruling more quickly than an adversarial or litigious approach.  This remains our position,” Mr Vaile said.

Mr Vaile said he welcomed the efforts the US Administration had made in discussions with its own industry to find a resolution to the dispute.

“While I understand and sympathise with industry frustration at the time taken to resolve this issue, I am committed to having the US tariff quota removed and obtaining for Australian lamb producers the justice provided by the WTO’s ruling,” Mr Vaile said.  

“I am certain the agreement we reached overnight will advance us towards the goal we share, of removing the restrictions."

Contact: James Baker (Ministerial) 02 6277 7420 mobile 0418 273 475 Lyndall Sachs (Departmental) 026261 1555

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