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Trade Creates Jobs And Regional Prosperity

5.30 p.m. Wednesday 3 July 2002

The jobs of about 2,300 Sealord staff largely depend on trade, Sealord Chief Executive Phil Lough told a Trade Liberalisation Network function in Nelson today.

Sealord, which is one of New Zealand’s two global enterprises, is a founding member of the Trade Liberalisation Network. It has worldwide fishing, processing and seafood marketing networks. Its products are sold globally and annual sales, including agency sales, total more than $600 million.

Mr Lough said more than 90 percent of Sealord’s revenue comes from sales in overseas markets. Like all export focussed companies, small changes in market access, subsidies and duties can have a big impact on Sealord.

“This in turn has an impact on the regions in which we operate. We employ about 1,500 permanent staff and between 750-800 seasonal staff in Nelson, Dunedin and Auckland – the majority in Nelson.

“We are one of the biggest employers in Nelson and we estimate our direct contribution to region’s GDP is more than $60 million. The indirect or induced impacts of our business we estimate to be about $140 million.

“In Dunedin, where we have a plant employing between 220 and 350 people depending on the season, we estimate the direct contribution to Otago’s GDP is more than $12 million and the indirect or induced impact almost $23 million.”

Mr Lough said Sealord’s global trade had also created skills and jobs in developing countries as well as the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.

“There is a small vociferous group which asserts that free trade harms developing countries. Research and our experience shows the opposite. Developing countries want free trade and the opportunity to participate in the benefits.

“Our world wide fishing and processing network includes fishing bases and processing plants in Latin America, Namibia, Thailand and China. Sealord contributes to the employment of about 1,400 people in these countries.

“New Zealand staff are continually training overseas nationals in fishing and processing skills, and we have assisted some of these countries with fisheries research.

Mr Lough said free trade would encourage further value growth of the New Zealand seafood industry. “It is the single biggest value driver to a region like Nelson – yet it is hidden from the public eye”.

“At present we face barriers such as Japanese import quotas, duty and customs dues on product exported to the Ukraine, Chinese import taxes and European taxes on our exports. In Europe alone fishing subsidies total almost one billion New Zealand dollars per annum and encourage fishing of their depleted stocks.

“Eliminating barriers and subsidies would be a win-win-win. A win for New Zealand trade, a win for the environment and a win for developing countries crowded out by subsidies and trade barriers.”

ENDS

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