Rod (Mc)Donald's Failing Singapore Trade
Green Party co-leader Rod Donald is making much of the fact that trade with Singapore has dramatically deteriorated
since the Government's free trade agreement took effect in January, and suggests the Government's push for free trade
with Singapore has got off to an appalling start and we are more dependent than ever on imports.
Perhaps Mr Donald should avail himself more of the web to understand what is happening around the world.
For instance, much of the deterioration in the trade balance with Singapore can be attributed to one thing. The slow
down in the global economy. This has been referred to in numerous articles in trade and financial reviews.
On 9 August in his address to the nation on the occasion of their National Day, the Prime Minister of Singapore
announced the following:
"The global economy is slowing down. The US downturn is more severe than anticipated. Japan is near recession, and the
EU has also slowed.
Secondly, the global electronics cycle has turned downwards. Analysts expect the semiconductor industry to decline by a
quarter this year. Electronic products are our biggest domestic exports, accounting for more than half (55%) of them."
There were a number of other issues raised by him, but more telling and what impacts on our ability to export to
Singapore is the fact their economy contracted by 0.9% in the second quarter, bringing growth in the first half to 1.8%
(compared with some 10% for last year). Their exports have declined substantially due to the downturn in the US economy
and the global electronics industry.
So before Mr Donald goes off half-cocked again, I suggest he does a bit of reading to help him understand a little
better what is going on around him and New Zealand.
Red Tape Leads To Brain Gap
According to recent criticism by Cerise McMaster, hospitality consultant for recruitment agency Adeccoand a number of
other, Wellington (and the country generally) are suffering a severe shortage of skilled workers, prompting calls to
relax "overly strict" work permit and immigration rules.
Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel said yesterday "...they were on track to reach the target" (of increasing the number
of skilled and business migrants to 27,000 a year from July 1).
We seem to have had this problem for years, compounded by ridiculous regulations which allow low-paid, poorly languaged
and skilled migrants and refugees to come into the country on what appears to be the flimsiest of pretexts.
Added to this we offer amnesties to overstayers few of which will have anything like the skills and earning capabilities
we desperately need.
Perhaps it is time for Lianne Dalziel to visit the Immigration Department of Australia to establish just what can be
done in this regard given the will and the fortitude.
In 1996 Australia changed its immigration policy to one emphasising skills and English language proficiency.
The changes also tightened access to welfare support, widening the waiting period for social security payments for newly
arrived immigrants from six months to two years.
This is something we in New Zealand could particularly learn from. Until we stop being the "lolly bucket" for all and
sundry in the South Pacific (and anywhere else who cares to come in ) we are never going to sustain or afford any sort
of reasonable growth.