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No Alliance No Jobs


No Alliance No Jobs

Robert Reid: Alliance Spokesperson on Trade

"The loss of the Alliance in the current Government was felt today, with the decision of the Labour Government to reinstate the unilateral tariff production programme that was frozen in 2002, said Alliance Trade and Economic Development spokesperson, Robert Reid.

"This decision will cause further factory closure job loss, especially in the textile, clothing and footwear industries," he said.

"In 1999, as junior coalition partner, the Alliance had convinced Labour to abandon its unilateral tariff production programme which was a hangover from the Rogernomics era. We thought we had convinced Labour to adopt a more sensible tariff and trade policy," Robert Reid said.

Robert Reid said senior Labour Ministers had publicly advocated the Alliance position when the tariff freeze was established.

"The Prime Minister, Helen Clark said: 'We have unilaterally disarmed ourselves on trade but very few others have been so foolish' (NZ Herald 10.04.00).

"The Minister of Trade Jim Sutton said, 'We are not going to reduce our tariff barriers unilaterally, just because some ideology says we should' (NZ Herald 22.11.01)

"Acting Minister of Commerce, Trevor Mallard, said 'I think the [tariff freeze] is sending a signal to New Zealanders that we think jobs are important and we are no longer following a blind ideological approach to tariffs' (NZ Herald 11.04.00)

"And Alliance leader at the time, Jim Anderton said 'no amount of industry development was compensation for the stupidity of the previous Government, which had opened up the country to cheap imports' (NZ Herald 31.03.00)

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"Yet today, these same people have signed up to a further round of unilateral tariff reductions, that, by their own admission, will see more factory closures and job losses, Robert Reid said.

"Although the tariff reduction process is not as severe as that proposed by Ministry of Economic Development officials, there was simply no need or requirement to reduce tariffs at all at this time.

"With the W.T.O. in chaos, the government is reduced to hanging on to the APEC Bogor Goals as justification for its actions. However the APEC goals to have "free trade" for developed countries by 2010 are, according to APEC, "voluntary" and "non-binding". No other developed APEC country is considering reducing clothing and footwear tariffs to zero by this date. The New Zealand Government has left this option open.

"It seems without the Alliance, Labour will drift back to its Rogernomics past," said Robert Reid. "Voters will need to consider this at the next election".

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