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Strong imports show need for buy-local strategy

June 27 2000

Strong imports show need for buy-local strategy

Higher import prices have failed to dampen our insatiable thirst for imports, Green Party co-leader Rod Donald said today.

Provisional trade figures released today show that demand for imports is still much stronger than expected, despite an estimated rise in import prices of around 15 per cent in the last year.

"These latest figures show that the Government has to show strong leadership in tackling the uncontrolled growth of imports," said Mr Donald. "Only a 'buy-local' strategy will get the trade balance back into the black, and kick-start job creation in New Zealand."

Mr Donald said buying local could be as simple as looking for locally made porridge or biscuits.

"The recent announcement that Goodman Fielder is closing its Fleming's oatmill in Gore spells unemployment for 36 workers and the end of an income for 50 farmers who grow the oats - and we will be importing more of yet another basic foodstuff from overseas.

"Buying porridge or biscuits from overseas is an example of free trade gone mad. New Zealand food is as good as food from overseas, and producing it here will help to keep New Zealanders in a job."

Imports of consumer goods, including food, are now worth 6.8 per cent of GDP ($6.85B), more than double ten years ago ($3.19B or 4.5 per cent of GDP).

"If we had met our increased demand for consumption goods over the last ten years with locally made products instead of imported goods, then we would have a small trade surplus now," said Mr Donald.

"Instead New Zealand's trade deficit over the year to May was a disastrous 3.38B - setting a record of six annual deficits in a row since May 1995 and more than twice the previous worst May deficit of $1.43B last year."

Rod Donald MP: 04 470 6660 or 025 507 183 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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