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No Future In Neanderthal Policies

18 June 1999

"The threat of trade restrictions against our sheep farmers has caused Jim Anderton to have a rush of blood to the head," said Trade Minister Lockwood Smith.

"Poor Mr Anderton opposes tariffs in the US because they destroy jobs, but he can't bring that same logic home to New Zealand.

"Mr Anderton likes to portray New Zealand as being out on its own on tariff removal. But he doesn't say that New Zealand runs a distant third to Singapore and Hong Kong, which do not apply tariffs to any good or service crossing their borders.

"Mr Anderton should grow up and look at the facts of how trade liberalisation has contributed to raising the living standards of New Zealand families:

1. 268,000 jobs have been created under the National-led Government. In fact for every week that National has been in office since 1991, around 600 New Zealanders have found new jobs;
2. The average weekly wage has risen from $542 to $654;
3. Net crown debt is down from 52% of GDP in 1991 to less than 25%;
4. New Zealand's economy has grown by 37% since 1991;

"Anderton's call for a return to tariffs flies in the face of these facts and credible research into the costs and benefits of trade liberalisation, including the recently released APEC study of the New Zealand wine industry.

"OECD research published last year is also unequivocal on this issue. It shows that in the last decade, countries that have been more open have achieved double the annual average growth of others, and that protectionist policies do not provide any answers.

"The OECD concludes that trade barriers "inevitably" lead to more protracted, and more costly periods of adjustment, and although the US may wish to impose this path on its sheep meat industry, the National-led Government has no interest in this approach.

"Anderton's vision for New Zealand is one of state regulated, tax-payer funded companies operating merrily exporting goods while limiting imports from our trading "partners". His utopia shows a disturbing attachment to policies which have been buried for decades, and which would push up the costs for our business and limit families' standard of living," Dr Smith concluded.


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