US lamb tariff to be absorbed by consumers

By Boyd Champness

US consumers are expected to absorb the 9% tariff on Australian lamb, meaning the impost should have little effect on farmers, according to a leading exporter.

Australian Lamb Company director Denis Zarpellon told producers at a lamb industry convention in Sydney last week that the indications were the US market would absorb the 9% tariff on the 17,139 tonnes of quota lamb.

“We havent been asked to drop prices,” said Mr Zarpellon, whose comments were reported in The Weekly Times newspaper.

In addition, Mr Zarpellon said the impact of the tariffs would be minimal if processors were smart.

“We should not waste our quota shipping lower value cuts of bone-in product or carcasses to the US,” he said.

Unlike the EU system, where boneless product is equated with bone-in equivalent, US imports will be conducted on actual weight, whether bone-in or bone-out, the newspaper said.

“We will get a lot more out of value-added products – 14 tonnes of bone-in product is the equivalent of about 2000 lambs, whereas 14 tonnes of boneless product is the equivalent of 3200 lambs,” Mr Zarpellon said.

Last month, US President Bill Clinton imposed a 9% tariff on existing imports and a 40% tariff on additional imports of Australian and New Zealand lamb, in an effort to protect American sheep farmers.

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