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$1.9 billion trade reversal: storm warning

$1.9 billion trade reversal: storm warning

The trade reversal from a surplus of $920 million to a $982 million deficit in one year is a timely reminder that Government's urgent priority must be to lift our economic performance, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"In the year from November 2001 our overseas trade revenue fell by $1.9 billion while the dollar went up 14 per cent and prices for our largest export item, dairy, dropped 25 per cent," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"The figures are a storm warning - Government's focus must move away from more regulation onto policies that will sustain higher business growth rates.

"But it seems it has no idea what would underpin business growth.

"To the contrary, export business competitiveness is under attack from both Government as well as the rising dollar.

"The three major laws introduced at the end of last year - the Local Government Act, the Health and Safety Amendment Act, and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol - will all add tremendously to the cost of doing business in New Zealand but won't raise the quality of our education or health standards. The new Supreme Court would cost another $5 million.

"Meanwhile the domestic economy rattles on, buoyed by record levels of retail spending and credit card debt.

"Government must move with urgency to launch growth sustaining policies if the last four years of good weather and good fortune are not to prove a great opportunity dreadfully wasted."

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