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Another Kiwi Myth Exposed - ACC

11 February 2000

The Kiwi self-description of New Zealand as a "nation of exporters" has been exposed as more myth than real by confirmation of the worst trade deficit figures for the last 24 years.

Michael Barnett, Chief Executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, said the latest trade statistics are a strong message to business sectors and government that they need to do more than talk about rebuilding a strong export-led economy.

The latest deficit figures will suggest to international investors that we are more of an importing nation than wealth creators, warned Mr Barnett.

"If we are to build a bigger economy and create the wealth and tax revenue needed for the social programmes signalled by the new Government, then some urgent strategies will be needed to empower more businesses to build new export ventures."

"It is time to “walk the talk” and make exporting into an attractive way of life. Otherwise we risk further shrinkage of our ability to earn the foreign exchange needed to sustain and build living standards."

Of the 200,000 businesses in New Zealand, barely 8000 - or less than 1% - are exporting regularly. Mr Barnett suggests that a good performance indicator for the new Government's promised export strategies, would be to double within three years the number of firms with regular export orders.

ends

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