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The Naked Minister

Importers Institute Relase - Import News

"I'm feeling a bit naked and vulnerable, turning blue," Minister of Trade Negotiations Jim Sutton wrote in The Independent yesterday.

Mr Sutton is frustrated that he has nothing to offer overseas trade ministers in negotiations "because we have no tariffs to speak of". This frustration, he says, is "a bit like being the first to strip at the nudist beach on a cold day and then wondering why no one else follows your example".

Does this mercantilist nonsense indicate the intellectual depth of this government? We don't think so.

Mr Sutton says he supports low tariffs because that benefits us. So the economic illiteracy of his remarks must be intended for the consumption of colleagues like Rod Donald and Jim Anderton.

Then again, these inanities may well be intended as a career-enhancing move on the part of Mr Sutton. Perhaps he is catering to his leader, who fretted in her maiden speech back in 1982 that free trade with Australia would mean "an execution date for our structure of import licensing."

The idea that a small trading nation like New Zealand can influence the tariffs of other countries is a bit like threatening to hold your breath until your parents change their minds. No wonder Mr Sutton is turning blue.

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