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Green's Policy Hurts New Zealand's Low Paid

Federated Farmers is imploring the Green Party to gain a better understanding of New Zealand's international trade and economic reality, following two Green Party MP's taking part in anti-trade demonstrations in Melbourne.

"If the Green Party really wants to help the low paid and the unemployed, they should be shouting praise for liberalised international trade and the WTO from the roof tops," said Federated Farmers President Alistair Polson.

"Trade, and particularly increased opportunities, are vital to improving every New Zealanders' living standards. Any analysis of New Zealand's economic performance shows that increasing overseas earnings is vital to retain skilled workers and to protect job growth for our unskilled workers."

"Less restricted trade and the reduction in tariffs paid to other countries is the single most important boost that the economy can get. This will flow through to benefit to every New Zealander. The agricultural tariffs New Zealand is currently paying, plus the lost export opportunities from prohibitively high tariffs and quotas, cost well in excess of $1 billion annually."

"If agriculture could earn an extra $1 billion each year, this would be worth as much as $6 billion annually to the rest of the economy. Agriculture's export income generates extra economic activity in other sectors."

"Even if only half the benefits were gained, it would mean an ongoing 3 percent boost in GDP. The link between higher growth, higher employment, and increased wages and salaries is very real, and that is what is at risk here," said Mr Polson.

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Mr Polson noted that New Zealand's past tariff reduction programme had achieved positive results for total employment levels and wage growth.

"Since the late 1980's when the reforms really started to have effect, total employment has grown by nearly 20 percent and average hourly pay rates by more than 30 percent. Unemployment has dropped from a peak of 10.3 percent in 1991 to just over 6 percent today."

"Trade liberalisation is very important for exporters, but all sections of the community benefits, especially the lower paid. The most vulnerable people are the low paid. Proportionally they have been the biggest winners from the lower prices that tariff reductions caused."

ENDS

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