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Today's trade figures prove NZ living beyond means

Today's trade figures prove again, we're living beyond our means

Jim Anderton MP Wed Sep 8 1999

Jim Anderton
MPWe're still living beyond our means, spending more than we earn and Mrs Shipley's government is doing nothing to reverse the worsening trend between what we export and what we import,' said leader of the Alliance, Jim Anderton

He was reacting to the latest overseas merchandise trade data showing a deficit of $1.7 billion for the year ended July.

Despite a slight rise in the export trend, New Zealand's overall trade balance has been worsening since (June) 1997.

Today the Alliance launched its plan to deal directly with the huge balance of payments deficit. The balance of payments is the difference between the amount New Zealand earned overseas last year and the amount it spent. Merchandise trade figures are a component of balance of payments.

The Alliance is proposing a temporary 5% increase on tariffs on imports excluding Australian goods (which would affect only 17% of GDP) as a way of decreasing our reliance on imports until our balance of payments problem is under control.

'Top on the APEC agenda should be the disastrous effects of this kind of debt on the economies of the region.

'As hosts of APEC Mrs Shipley's government has an obligation to discuss the in-balance that exists between New Zealand and other APEC countries. Instead she's promoting further trade liberalisation that would further disadvantage New Zealand exports.

'At the moment APEC countries import far more into New Zealand than we export to them. The reason for that is simple: Mrs Shipley's government made sure that New Zealand bolted past the stable door on tariff reduction while other APEC countries were still enjoying their breakfast.'

A 5% increase on tariffs on imports, excluding Australia, would mean a modest price increase on those products affected (an imported $10 t-shirt for example would in future cost $10.50).

'This would allow us to deal directly with the balance of payments deficit and to stimulate import substitution industries, which the figures today prove once again, are not in New Zealand's favour.

'The Alliance policy would create jobs, encourage local industries and increase government revenue from decreased unemployment.

'All New Zealanders suffer from our burgeoning trade debt.

'The Alliance has a plan to reverse this trend,' said Jim Anderton.

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