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Trade Deficit Disaster For National

25 June 1999

Trade Deficit Disaster For National

On the eve of the APEC Trade Ministers' Conference New Zealand's trading situation has spun out of control.

Statistics New Zealand announced today the trade deficit for the year to May was $1.516 billion, the worst in New Zealand's history, eclipsing all previous deficits.

The May deficit caps off a dramatic five year decline in New Zealand's overseas merchandise trade situation which has seen five consecutive deficits follow three good surpluses.

"The trade situation is clearly out of control," said Green Party MP Rod Donald. It's time for the Government to take decisive action instead of sitting on its hands. We need to reduce our dependence on imports because [International Trade Minister] Lockwood Smith's so-called export-led recovery is a myth.

"The widening gap between imports and exports has been caused by the Government's free trade policies.

"According to Statistics NZ the leading contributors to the growth in imports are cars and household consumption goods. These trends follow the Government axing tariffs on car imports and slashing tariffs on clothing and footwear.

"Not only has the Government's free trade policies put tens of thousands of New Zealanders out of work, it has made our economy extremely vulnerable.

"What will it take for the Government to face up to this situation? Hopefully these trade figures will cause visiting trade ministers to examine more closely the hype coming from the National Government about its economic management.

"Clearly the appalling reality of our trade situation makes a lie of the Government's free trade ideology," Rod Donald said.

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