Brisbane Times (Australia)
May 23, 2009
US government plans to reintroduce dairy export subsidies are a "serious backward step" towards protectionism and could lead to other nations following suit, the federal government says.
The move to reinstate dairy export subsidies "flies in the face made by G20 leaders not to impose protectionist measures", a joint statement between Agriculture Minister Tony Burke and Trade Minister Simon Crean says.
The announcement by US secretary for agriculture Tom Vilsack on Friday follows the recent reintroduction of dairy export subsidies in the European Union.
"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 statement says.
At the time of the EU decision, the federal government protested strongly against the move, arguing it would invite retaliatory action by other nations.
"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."
Last month the government wrote to the US administration, urging them not to take this course of action.
Since then Australia’s formal objection to the move has been registered "at senior levels with the US administration" through the embassy in Washington, DC.
The government says it is seeking urgent meetings between with the US and other non-subsidising dairy exporters to help minimise the impact on Australia’s dairy export markets.