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Free trade lunacy fuels record deficit

Free trade lunacy fuels record deficit

The Green Party is challenging Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel to extend the tariff freeze, in the wake of the record July trade deficit announced today.

Statistics NZ has reported that the July trade deficit of $471 million is the largest July deficit in the last 17 years, excepting July 1997 when the frigate Te Kaha was imported. The July year deficit of $3,117 million is the worst in New Zealand's history.

"When will the Government learn that its free trade policies are failing New Zealanders?" Green MP Rod Donald said today. "Just ask the dozens of Levin clothing workers who are being laid off as a result of a flood of cheap imports, about the benefits of tariff reduction.

"Rather than chasing the mirage of free-trade agreements with China and the United States the Government should do what our major trading partners do, which is to manage their trade. Australia has higher tariffs than New Zealand and intends to maintain them for years.

"We should keep tariffs in place at existing levels for another five years. Any further cuts in tariffs will not only lead to more job losses but cause the trade deficit to blow out even further.

"It's no coincidence that New Zealand has had more trade deficits than surpluses since the third Labour Government started slashing tariffs on imported goods in the 1980s," said Rod Donald. The Minister of Commerce is currently reviewing the freeze on New Zealand's remaining tariffs.

ENDS


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