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US tariff decision shows the myth of free trade

The Alliance said the decision by the USA to place a tariff on New Zealand lamb exports at the same time that we are going ahead with reductions in tariffs shows the myth of free trade.

"This government doesn't care about the interests of its own people. We have opened New Zealand's markets to cheap imported goods from countries such as the USA in the name of free trade. We are repaid by increases in tariffs on our goods," Alliance Leader Jim Anderton said.

"Our government is so committed to the fictional ideal of free trade it cannot see when we are being swindled by our trading partners. As long as powerful countries such as the USA make their own rules there is no such thing as free trade.

"The USA uses tariffs and other non tariff trade barriers on our agricultural products with gay abandon. For example our Cheese exports to the US are subject to a tariff of 10 to 20% as well as a quota and their dairy exports are also subsidised by the government.

"In other countries wage rates are so low that no matter how efficient our manufacturers are they cannot compete. Clothing outworkers in Australia for example are paid as little as $2 an hour. No wonder we have lost 14,500 jobs in the clothing industry over the last ten years alone.

"Successive New Zealand governments have reduced tariffs on imports, destroying our own jobs without regard to the restrictive trade practices placed on our exports.

"The effect on jobs of New Zealand's tariff reduction is appalling. Since 1987 when we started removing tariffs we have lost 26,500 jobs in manufacturing, the sector most hit by tariff reductions. We only gained 1,900 jobs in agriculture, the sector that had the most to gain from other countries following our lead in reducing tariffs.

"For the protection of our own industries and jobs we should use tariffs to even up the trading environment," Jim Anderton said.

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