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Another Kiwi icon flies East?

Another Kiwi icon flies East?

The Green Party is challenging Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton to put together a rescue package for Timaru clothing manufacturer Swanndri to save it from fleeing to cheap labour in China.

Pressures to compete in a global market and the lack of government trade protection saw Swanndri announce yesterday that it is pulling out of New Zealand after 134 years of operating here and shifting its manufacturing to China.

"Swanndri is not only a Kiwi icon, it is one of our most respected brands. It has survived two world wars and several economic depressions, but it could not compete against Labour and National's free trade policies," Co-Leader Rod Donald says.

"Local MP Jim Sutton has a lot to answer for. Every time he swans off overseas to negotiate another free trade agreement with a sweatshop economy, he drives another nail into the coffin of New Zealand manufacturing.

"Instead of turning his back on Swanndri and his electorate, Jim Sutton, and his colleague Jim Anderton, should be doing everything possible to keep the company's manufacturing base in New Zealand and help it to expand. We should be exporting more high quality, high value knitwear - not just bails of wool for processing in Chinese."

Swanndri's decision isn't just about the loss of 14 jobs, it's about the impact that losing another iconic brand will have on business confidence and on our manufacturing capacity, Mr Donald says.

"New Zealand's $2 billion trade deficit with China will only get bigger if Swanndri does move to China. President Hu Jintao must be rubbing his hands together in glee," Mr Donald says.

ENDS

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