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National,Act,Fed Farmers should get facts straight

The Green Party today accused National, Act and Federated Farmers of scaremongering over the decision to freeze tariffs at current levels.

The Green Party supports the Government's move and is also calling for the Government to investigate introducing new tariffs for job creation and balance of payments purposes.

"National's John Luxton is claiming the tariff freeze will hit many families who rely on cheaper clothing and shoes but he ignores the fact that families have been forced into buying cheap imports because of the impact of previous tariff cuts," Green Party Trade spokesperson Rod Donald said.

"According to Apparel and Textile Federation figures over 10,000 people lost their jobs in the last decade because National reduced tariffs on textiles clothing and footwear.

"Many more other workers are on low wages because their employers are forced to pay close to the minimum wage in the face of unfair competition from sweatshop imports.

"National's claim that clothing and shoes will be 20% more expensive in 2006 than they would have been if tariff cuts had continued is patently ridiculous. Federated Farmers claim that households would save $1000 a year if tariffs were removed is totally unsubstantiated. Act does not even try to justify its idealogical rant against freezing tariffs.

"The facts, according to the Apparel and Textile Federation, are that freezing tariffs at current levels will mean that New Zealanders will pay about $25 more per person per year for clothing and $8 per person per year for shoes - a fraction of the extraordinary figures claimed by those opposed to the tariff freeze," said Mr Donald.

"Predictably, the opponents of tariffs failed to acknowledge the beneficial impact of protecting New Zealand businesses and workers from unfair competition.

According to the latest BERL (Business and Economic Research Limited) report prepared for the Industrial Supplies Office (part of the Ministry of Economic Development) nearly sixteen jobs are lost for every $1 million of imported goods which were previously made here. On top of that the job losses lead to increased welfare payments of $159,000, reduced taxation revenue of $118,000 and reduced spending power of $259,000.

"Some commonsense on trade policy is long overdue. The Green Party is urging the Government to conduct a comprehensive cost benefit analyses on tariffs, including the benefits of introducing new tariffs to boost employment, reduce the trade deficit and protect our quality of life.

"If National, Act and Federated Farmers genuinely want to help low income families they should be promoting 'Buy New Zealand Made' amongst their supporters," he said.

Ends

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