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US subsidies a backward step towards protectionism

The US Government’s plans to reintroduce dairy export subsidies are protectionist and could lead to other countries blocking free trade, the Rudd Government said today.

Minister for Trade Simon Crean and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke made the comments after an announcement yesterday by US Secretary for Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

As a significant exporter of dairy, Australia views this action as a serious backward step.

The decision comes as dairy farmers around the world are struggling with the global recession and lower milk prices.

This move flies in the face of the commitments made by G20 Leaders not to impose protectionist measures.

In taking this step, the US sends a negative signal to countries around the globe that are tempted to introduce their own protectionist measures.

The US announcement follows the recent reintroduction of dairy export subsidies by the EU.

Australia protested strongly at the time of the EU decision. We said the that move would invite retaliatory action, and we urged the US not to follow suit.

Now, both the EU and US are using export subsidies and setting a poor example for the rest of the world. We strongly reaffirm the need for the US and the EU to show better leadership.

The US decision also highlights the importance of concluding the WTO’s Doha Round, which will see the complete elimination of export subsidies.

Earlier this year the Australian Government raised the issue directly with Secretary Vilsack and wrote to him last month urging the Administration to resist this course of action.

Following the announcement yesterday, Australia has already registered its objection at senior levels with the US administration, through our Embassy in Washington.

We will seek urgent meetings between the US, Australia and other non-subsidising dairy exporters to help minimise the impact on Australia’s export markets for dairy products.

Minister for Trade Simon Crean said he had also spoken to New Zealand Trade Minister Groser this morning.

“We will be taking this issue up as a matter of priority with other ministers at the Cairns Group meeting in Bali in early June,” he said.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said Australian dairy farmers had every right to be fed up and were already dealing with global pressures.

“This is another kick in the guts for our dairy farmers, following the recent EU decision as well,” he said.

by S. C.
24 may 2009, World News > Oceania

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