Australia says disappointed over U.S.-EU beef quota deal

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CANBERRA, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Australia's trade minister has expressed his disappointment in the beef quota deal between the United States and the European Union (EU).

Simon Birmingham, minister for trade, tourism and investment, told the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on Tuesday that the quota could be devastating for Australian beef exporters.

"We are deeply disappointed that U.S. demands have resulted in the EU reducing the quota available to Australian beef producers," Birmingham said.

Australia currently exports approximately 11,000 tonnes of beef worth more than 100 million Australian dollars (68.5 million U.S. dollars) to the EU every year under the 45,000 tonne-per-year "high-quality grain-fed beef" quota.

However, the United States will receive an initial allocation of 18,500 tonnes out of the quota, rising to 35,000 tonnes, or 77 percent of the total, within seven years.

The deal leaves Australia and its rival exporters to vie for the 10,000 tonne remainder.

Birmingham said that the government knew the deal was inevitable and had pushed hard for the seven-year transition.

"We will continue to seize every opportunity to stand up for the best interests of our beef exporters by using this transition period to identify new, commercially-meaningful market access opportunities into the EU and other markets," he said.

"This decision has only strengthened our resolve to secure a comprehensive and ambitious Australia-EU FTA that gives our producers significantly improved access into this large market." Enditem

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