INDEPENDENT NEWS

Pull Up! Pull Up! We’re going to crash!

Published: Wed 1 Dec 1999 11:59 AM
Press Release
1 December 1999
Pull Up! Pull Up! We’re going to crash!
Smith and Sutton must end free trade fixation
The Green Party says the incoming Labour-led government should back off National’s zealous pursuit of trade liberalisation and instead embrace fair trade policies.
Labour’s Jim Sutton and outgoing Trade Minister Lockwood Smith are currently in Seattle for a World Trade Organisation meeting where internal disagreements and protests outside the venue have paralysed negotiations.
“Smith and Sutton are doing New Zealand a major disservice by continuing to clutch at the free trade straw,” said Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald.
“New Zealand’s trade balance has been diving ever since National embraced free trade. If we don’t pull up soon our economy is going to crash.
The Greens point to the October trade deficit of over $2 Billion and the accumulated deficit for the last five years of over $4.5 Billion to back up their claims.
“The new Labour-led government needs to accept that Europe and Japan have woken up to the risks of unfettered free trade and are putting issues of sovereignty and food security first. New Zealand should do the same,” Rod Donald said.
“Instead of trying to pursue trade liberalisation in agricultural products against concerted opposition, Smith and Sutton should be finding out more about the benefits of fair trade.
“New Zealand’s trading future lies in adding value to our exports, especially by going organic, rather than trying to increase the volume of goods we ship around the world.
“At the same time we have to address the rampant growth in imported consumer goods which have outstripped export growth for five years in a row and have also put thousands of New Zealanders out of work as manufacturing has shifted overseas.
“Instead of perpetually hoping for an export-led recovery we need to become more self-reliant again.
“That means addressing the issue of tariffs. Freezing the few remaining tariffs is not enough. New Zealand needs to look at introducing new tariffs, both to protect and create jobs and also to shift the trade balance from the red back into the black.
Simply introducing a 5 percent tariff on all imports except those from across the Tasman, as the Alliance is suggesting, will not achieve what is needed as our biggest trade deficit is with Australia.
The focus of any new tariffs should be on levelling the playing field so that countries which exploit their labour force to produce cheaper goods or which provide better government support to local businesses should not be allowed to have an unfair advantage over New Zealand enterprises.
We therefore urge the new government to initiate a thorough review of tariff policy to ensure that New Zealand manufacturers have a fair chance against their Australian and Asian competitors,” he said.
Rod Donald can be contacted on 025 507 183, 03 332 5765 or 03 3663 292

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