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Sweets & soccer balls: trade policy and your vote

Media Release - Thursday 1 September

Sweets and soccer balls - trade policy and your vote!

The Trade Liberalisation Network has revealed it would cost each New Zealand household an extra $747 a year if yesterday’s tariffs on a select basket of goods were still applied today.

Executive Director, Suse Reynolds, urges voters to think about the impact of trade policy on their incomes at a function in Hawke’s Bay tonight.

Her point is illustrated by applying the 1988 tariff to a dozen categories of household spending. Tariffs are a tax applied to imports at the border.

- Confectionary - would leave a sour taste of an extra $31.90 a year.

- Hardware and materials - would nail you for an extra $27 a year.

- Garden supplies - would hose down you for $22.36.

- Audio and visual appliances - would give you square eyes for an extra $35.80 a year.

- Furniture items - you would not stand for the extra $64.89 a year.

- Disinfectants, insecticides, pesticides - it would bug you to pay an extra $1.91 a year.

- Women’s footwear - those bunions would cost you an extra $19.84 a year.

- The purchase of a road vehicle - they would drive you mad at the extra $443.68 a year.

- Toiletries - you would lift your nose at the extra $24.04 a year.

- Cosmetics - they would make you blush at the $16.40 extra a year.

- Publications - they would pulp you at the extra $47.00 a year.

- Sports goods – you would want to kick for touch the extra $9.23 a year.

“These examples show reducing income tax is not the only way to increase disposable earnings,” said Reynolds referring to the recent tax debate.

“The right trade policy will also have a positive impact on incomes. An open trade policy creates better jobs, provides cost effective business inputs, access to innovative technology and information, greater consumer choice and clear signals about where New Zealanders are best placed to earn a living,” she said.

Reynolds noted that most of the $4 billion a year Hawke’s Bay generates comes from trade based industries. At least half of the 65,000 jobs in the region are created by these industries and most of the rest rely on them.

“The opportunity for Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand producers and service providers to improve their earnings is hugely enhanced by greater access to international markets.

“The agreements recently signed with Singapore, Thailand, Chile and Brunei and those being pursued with China, ASEAN and Malaysia are all vital in this respect. Dwarfing all of these will be a successful WTO Doha Trade Round,” Reynolds added.

The TLN is unimpressed with the Green Party’s and New Zealand First’s trade policies. Trade agreements with Asian nations do not appeal to either party.

“The Greens want to abandon trade agreements with countries whose human rights and environment policies we disagree with. This does not make sense. It destroys valuable opportunities to talk frankly with those governments about our concerns for the environment and human rights,”Reynolds noted.

Mr Peters has said he is “weary” of trade agreements with “large Asian nations”.

“While he has not gone as far as saying New Zealand should pull out of any of the current negotiations you get the feeling he is happy to convey the impression New Zealand First might,” said Reynolds.

“We are all better off in an open trading environment - not just traders.

“Living standards improve and open borders truly reflect Hawke’s Bay’s ability to shine in any international market,”Reynolds concluded.

ENDS

See the TLN website (www.tln.org.nz) for a full copy of the NZIER study “Household spending and trade liberalisation – indicators of possible consumer benefits since 1988” on which her comments are based.

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