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'Bold move' to abolish tariffs viewed with dismay

'Bold move' to abolish tariffs viewed with dismay

Most people who work for a living will view the New Zealand government's "bold move" to bolster flagging international support for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and globalization with dismay, Maxine Gay, Secretary of the Clothing Workers Union and member of the Action, Research and Education Network of Aotearoa (ARENA) said today.

"Proposing to abolish all tariffs on non-agricultural products would spell disaster for what remains of New Zealand’s clothing, textile and footwear industry. Thousands of jobs could be lost. It also contradicts the Labour government’s own economic development strategy and makes a nonsense of the current tariff review.”

"Such an extreme position puts New Zealand offside with the vast majority of countries that are neither rich nor large. Instead, it aligns New Zealand with American dreams of a global marketplace for its own transnational companies and investments - a dream that in reality, New Zealand has no hope of sharing," says Ms Gay.

Gay says, the proposal, if successful, would devastate almost all Pacific Island countries, most third-world countries - in fact, any country that can only compete with cheap labour and raw materials. Even New Zealand manufacturers who claim to "see" that illusive "pot of gold" at the end of the free-trade rainbow will eventually be unable to compete against the mass cheap labour and poor quality goods that will flood every market in the world.

Gay says this proposal "commits New Zealand to a course of action that will not be easily changed. The government is desperately seeking US approval for an unlikely chance to secure a dubious free-trade agreement with America. Unfortunately, the approving slap on the back could well become a stab in the back for a large number of New Zealanders."

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