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Sweatshops – What Sweatshops?

Sweatshops – What Sweatshops?

Canterbury Manufacturers’ Association CEO John Walley says that the monthly Statistics New Zealand trade figures showing yet another increase in the trade deficit in July, further highlights the need for a Buy Kiwi Made programme that clearly explains the wisdom and self interest associated with the purchase of locally made products.

“The fact that the debate over what constitutes ‘Kiwi Made’ has had so much ‘air time’ is astounding, better to focus on what buy Kiwi made really means”, says Mr. Walley, “the latest trade figures showing an even greater gap between imports and exports demonstrates that the need to develop some sensitivity to the issues around buying Kiwi made is increasingly urgent. As is additional support and assistance to local firms that choose to produce here and sell their products offshore.”

“Jeremy Moon is right, the issue of Buy Kiwi Made is not just about sweatshops in China. The issue is about whether a company fully supports New Zealand values and economic growth by basing their operation here and in so doing, help reverse the growing trade deficit and provide local employment.”

Mr. Walley says that the relocation of companies, iconic or otherwise, to China in order to reduce their operating costs is a fact of life and one that will continue into the future. And, if a firm decides it can make more money by relocating then that is their decision to do so.

However, Mr. Walley says that for companies such as Icebreaker to continue to argue that they should be part of the ‘Buy Kiwi’ campaign is nonsense. “Yes, they may be registered in New Zealand, their shareholders benefit as do the people working on their designs but do they provide for New Zealand’s export development or contribute all they can to a reduction in the trade deficit?”

“Companies relocate to low-cost countries to access that low cost environment. This means not only cheaper labour, but lower levels safety, higher environmental impacts, less protection for intellectual property and a number of other cost advantages that accrue to lower levels of quality assurance in supply chains. Otherwise why relocate production activities there?”

“We have recently seen Apple having to defend itself against allegations that it is using forced labour and sweatshops to make its I-Pods. As that is still happening in high-tech industries, claims that sweatshops no longer exist in low-tech sectors have to be seen as self serving.”

“We have said it before and we will keep saying it – ‘Buy Kiwi Made’ means buy Kiwi made, not buy made somewhere else’”, says Mr. Walley. “‘Buy Kiwi Made’ is important in promoting New Zealand’s export and economic growth, it also means that you just might be buying your job, you are certainly supporting New Zealand values.”


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