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More tariff cuts, more no growth policy

Media statement Tuesday, September 30th, 2003

More tariff cuts, more no growth policy

The industries most affected by tariff cuts - textiles, footwear and clothing (TCF) manufacturers - will not greet today's news with any enthusiasm, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"Our TCF manufacturers and their 18,000 employees fail to understand why New Zealand must continue to lead the world in freeing up trade while the world's wealthiest economies keep standing us up at the free trade party," said Bruce Goldsworthy, EMA's Manager of Manufacturing Services.

"They don't understand why their jobs are being put in jeopardy in exchange for 'agricultural access' to other markets when there are no signs, or likely to be, of getting better market access.

"New Zealand is the only country in APEC maintaining its commitment to reach zero tariffs by 2010.

"A major concern for the TCF industries is that the tariff adjustments and any other policy actions should be closely aligned to Australia's, but Australia has no tariff reduction programme to the levels indicated by 2009.

"The new rates will likely lead to further plant closures and staff relocations. We hope Government has thought about the impact their losses will have on the availability of skills and training for our top export fashion designers.

"With the remnants of the TCF industry now largely in regional towns, new employment opportunities there won't be easy to find for displace employees.

"If this is an example of a 'business friendly' Government it shows an absence of imagination.

"As a policy for growth it rates about 1 out of 10 as it comes on top of Government's escalating costs of business compliance, high company tax rates, especially for smaller businesses, and far higher costs associated with employing people."

ENDS

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