Subject: Australian Ag Min: Satisfied No Foot-And-Mouth In E Timor

Wednesday 4 April 12:53 PM 

Australian Ag Min: Satisfied No Foot-And-Mouth In E Timor

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Australia is satisfied there is no foot-and-mouth disease in East Timor, Agriculture Minister Warren Truss said Wednesday.

"The Australian veterinarians have certified there's no foot-and-mouth disease in East Timor," he said, adding that "the world has accepted that Indonesia has been free of foot-and-mouth disease since 1983."

Australia has troops stationed in East Timor as part of the U.N. operation.

Truss added he welcomed the U.N.'s decision to abide by and ban the import into East Timor of meat from countries that have been affected by the highly-contagious disease.

Although the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Europe has made Australian feedmeal and cattle exports more attractive, these diseases have damaged consumer confidence in these products, Truss told reporters.

Australia is free from these diseases.

"We are seeking to exploit that advantage wherever we can but it's also true that the outbreak of these diseases in Europe has damaged consumer confidence and the markets in those countries are therefore somewhat depressed," he said.

Australia's best opportunities are in countries that previously obtained beef and meat products from Europe, he said.

He didn't name these countries but said Australian beef and lamb exports are already doing very well and fetching record high prices.

Truss spoke to reporters on the sidelines of Grains Week 2001 conference.

-By Wong Chia Peck, Dow Jones Newswires

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