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Greens call for tariffs as imports soar

01 May 2000

Greens call for tariffs as imports soar

Green Co-Leader Rod Donald today called for new tariffs on imports after the announcement of a shock trade deficit for March.

Economists had expected over a $100 million surplus for March, but figures released today showed that the trade balance for the month is a deficit of $38 million. The average trade balance for March over the last 10 years is a $211 million surplus.

"We want the Government to give serious consideration to implementing new import tariffs," said Mr Donald. "The previous Government's policy of reducing tariffs has been a disaster, and the current Government's policy of relying solely on boosting exports isn't working."

According to Statistics New Zealand, exports are rising too slowly to cover the growth in imports.

"I challenge the Government to come up with a workable alternative which will stop our insatiable demand for imports from suffocating our economy. Despite the Alliance's pre-election stance on tariffs, the new Government doesn't seem prepared to even investigate the benefits of introducing new tariffs," he said.

Mr Donald said the growth in imports of clothing and textiles was indicative of the harm done when tariffs are removed.

"Figures prepared for the Ministry of Economic Development, show that 15.7 jobs are lost in New Zealand for every $1 million of imported consumer goods," said Mr Donald.

The annual trade balance up to March 2000 worsened to a deficit of $3.5 billion, compared to a $1.1 billion deficit in March 1999.

"These worse than expected figures don't bode well for the up-coming March balance of payments figures, despite Finance Minister Michael Cullen's recent optimism that they will show some improvement."

Rod Donald MP: (03) 332 5765 or 025 507 183 Gina Dempster, press secretary: (04) 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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