February 16, 2006
The Honorable Robert J. Portman
U.S. Trade Representative
Winder Building, 600 – 17th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20506
Dear Ambassador Portman:
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), as the national trade organization of the United States sheep industry, recently approved action requesting sheep meat trade reform to be included as a priority in the negotiations of the World Trade Organization.
We ask consideration of sheep meat trade reform as a priority of the Bush Administration position to provide a more equal footing for trade around the world and equity for domestic agriculture producers.
The Centre for International Economics of Canberra, Australia provided an extensive report on the global benefits of Sheep Meat Trade Report dated January 11, 2006 and we enclose that report as supporting documentation in development of the Administration’s trade policy with the WTO.
We also suggest Meat and Livestock Australia as a very knowledgeable resource regarding the report, as well as an advocate of an international effort for sheep meat trade reform.
Our association has testified before the U.S. Congress regarding the serious inequity that exists between the domestic sheep industry and that of the European Union in terms of federal subsidy and import protection. With $2 billion annually in subsidies to European sheep farmers and a strict tariff rate quota that efficiently caps imports of lamb meat, there is absolutely no question that sheep producers in the E.U. have a dramatic advantage compared to producers in the United States.
As determined in the recent analysis of the U.S. government in preparation for the Australian Free Trade Agreement, America has no economically significant barriers to imports of lamb. In fact, the United States continues to be the largest export market for Australian lamb as it has been for decades and a rapidly expanding market for New Zealand. With the tariff rate quotas of the EU regarding lamb, that market has not experienced the same level of increasing pressure from competitors.
Our Executive director, Peter Orwick is available (303) 771-3500 ext 33, to assist with questions and requests on this important request to help level the playing field for U.S. sheep producing farm and ranch families.
Paul R. Frischknecht
Bc: The Honorable Mike Johanns