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Alliance challenges students with alternative view

APEC is in danger of being taken over by trade liberalisation evangelists, who refuse to face the facts that their policies have caused untold damage in New Zealand industries, businesses and communities, Alliance leader Jim Anderton has told an APEC Business Student Forum in Auckland.

'If APEC were a rugby team, the coach would have been sacked by now. Mrs Shipley and her government have led the charge towards yet more trade and investment liberalisation, and as APEC hosts this year they're determined to present a glossy version of events at every meeting.

'But APEC students deserve the whole story, warts and all. There is another side to what they have been told.

'In 1985 when this experiment started to have its first effects, New Zealand had 112,000 jobless. The number of jobless now is 220,000, an increase of almost 100%

'Premature tariff cuts in New Zealand have destroyed whole industries overnight. In 1997, 58,700 people were employed in making cars, clothes, foot wear and associated industries in New Zealand. Now there are only 33,000 people in those industries.

'I'm sure Mrs Shipley won't be pointing out to APEC leaders that although you can now buy a cheap Japanese imported car in New Zeland, the value of your family car was reduced overnight.

'While tariff barriers have been significantly reduced in New Zealand to allow overseas companies easy access to our market, our most efficient production such as dairy products, meat, fruit, fish, and timber are hit by tariffs in APEC nations ranging from 10% to over 100%.

'The social costs of sweeping de-regulation have been appalling. No matter how much more cheaply they can buy a second hand Japanese car, 80% of all New Zealanders are worse off now that they were fifteen years ago.

'At its best APEC is about recognising ourselves as a regional community. That brings with it certain responsibilities. One of which is to say, 'we tried deregulation in this country. There were some benefits!
, but there were also significant costs.'

'Other APEC countries can learn from us and we can learn from them. One of the main reasons for the recent Asian crisis was the free flow of capital, so that countries like China, India and Malaysia which had some sort of limit on capital flows weathered the economic storm better than countries like Indonesia and Thailand which had no such controls.

'These are the sorts of subjects we should be discussing at APEC. Instead, Mrs Shipley wants to turn APEC into an advertisement for the glories of a deregulated market. It seems we won't get a constructive debate at APEC under this particular coach,' said Jim Anderton.

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