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Rise in imports points to need for self-reliance

25 May 2001

Rise in imports points to need for self-reliance strategy

The day after the Green's budget speech challenged the government to end its exclusive focus on exporting, the latest trade figures reinforced the party's concerns.

Statistics New Zealand figures released today show a rising imports trend over the last two months to take the annual cost of imports to $31.5B, up 11.6% on the previous April year.

"It's good to see the annual trade deficit drop below $1B for the first time in three years, but the message from the latest figures is that we can't fly on one wing," said Green Party co-leader Rod Donald.

"While exports are rising on the back of a low dollar, imports are also increasing, despite their higher cost.

"In particular the imports of consumption goods rose 12% during the year. Most of these goods and used to be and could still be made in New Zealand.

"Our challenge to the government is to put resources into encouraging ministries, departments, councils, businesses and the public to buy New Zealand-made and our challenge to the people of this country is to think about more than the up front cost of a product when they go shopping.

"Buying local will not only help to get our trade deficit back in the black, it also generates jobs.

Mr Donald said the Ministry of Commerce has produced figures that show for every million dollars of import substitution we achieve, 16 jobs are created along with all the benefits which flow-on from that.

"If we reduced our imports of such basic items as biscuits, ice-cream, tinned food, clothing and shoes to the level they were 10 years ago, we would have a massive trade surplus and 60,000 more jobs making these goods here, putting us well on the way to achieving full employment."

ENDS

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