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Trade Deficit still over $1 Billion

27 March 2001

Trade Deficit still over $1 Billion

The Green Party says its good news that import growth has stalled but more needs to be done to reduce New Zealand's trade deficit.

Statistics New Zealand figures released today estimate a merchandise trade surplus of $413 million for the month of February and a trade deficit of just over $1 billion for the year.

"It's good to see exports exceed imports so strongly in February but New Zelaand still has to change some fundamentals in order to get our trade balance back in the black for the long-term," said Green Co-Leader Rod Donald.

"Imports, at $31 billion for the year, are unsustainably high.

"While exports are up 24 per cent for the year they are still $1 billion behind imports and can't be relied on to continue increasing rapidly in the light of widely held views that the ecomomies of our three largest export markets are in trouble.

"It is obvious to anyone except those fixated by the free market, that New Zealand needs a balanced approach to trade," he said.

"Reducing our dependence on unnecessaary imports is not only as important as boosting exports, it is also a prudent strategy.

"It makes no sense to import almost $7.5 billion of consumer goods - up from $5 billion four years ago - when most of those products can be or are made in New Zealand.

"Reversing the 50 per cent increase in consumer good imports in the last year would not only reverse the trade surplus but also create 40,000 new jobs," he said.

ENDS



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