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WTO Cancun - Cheaper food, phone calls and clothes

Media Release - Friday 12 September

WTO Cancun - Cheaper food, phone calls and clothes anyone??

If you need convincing about the benefits of freeing up trade and investment regimes compare your clothes, telephone and food bills with those you were paying in the eighties.

Suse Reynolds, Executive Director of the Trade Liberalisation Network said improvement of real incomes was at the heart of the reforms Trade Ministers were seeking at the WTO Ministerial in Cancun, Mexico.

"The average New Zealand family now spends $700 less a year on clothing than it did in the mid-eighties.

"To put it another way, when trade restrictions were at their height buying clothes for the family took twice as much from the household budget as it does today," said Reynolds.

Reynolds observed that only three decades ago to talk to friends in England you were required to book a week in advance and it cost you $80 to speak for ten minutes.

"Now, you not only have a choice of telecommunication provider, but for $8 you can speak for up to two hours."

Thirty to forty percent of New Zealand's food is now imported. There is far more choice in supermarkets and food bills take up a much smaller proportion of household incomes.

"Take pasta for instance, at one time there were perhaps two different brands on the shelves and you could choose spaghetti or macaroni. Now you can choose from hundreds of different shapes produced under dozens of different brands from Italy, Spain, the US and Australia."


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