By Boyd Champness

AMERICAS refusal to discuss its prohibitive tariff on Australian and New Zealand lamb imports has left Australia no choice other than to take the matter to the World Trade Organisation, federal trade minister Mark Vaile said last week.

“We have no option but to seek to have the matter heard before a dispute settlement panel,” Mr Vaile said.

At the request of US sheep producers, the US government imposed a three-year quota on lamb imports from Australia and New Zealand in July, worth A$140 million (£54m) last year.

While Australia and New Zealand protested against the decision the US administration said it was still acting within its rights under WTO laws.

The countries failed to sort out their differences during recent trade talks. New Zealand has already pledged to take Washington to the WTO.