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Agriculture Needs To Be Part Of Knowledge Economy

19 August 1999


United New Zealand fully supports the need to revitalise New Zealand's export economy as announced by the government today as part of the Bright Future package. The need has never been greater, with an export trade deficit of over $100 billion overhanging the economy and threatening the fragile recovery which the Government is trying to convince us we are experiencing says Jim Howard, United NZ candidate for Rangitikei and the party's Agriculture and Primary Industries spokesman.

"But any such moves to stimulate growth must be fair and even-handed. Traditional export industries have been ravaged since 1984 by extremely unfriendly policies led by a substantially over-valued exchange rate to hold down internal inflation.

"Although continuing to provide close to the 60% of export income which it has provided for the last decade, in spite of blatant disregard or worse by successive Governments, this Government is now saying that the agricultural export industry is not providing adequately for the country's present and future needs. New incentives, they now say, are necessary to encourage the new education economy", says Mr Howard.

He says this sounds very like the proclamations of Roger Douglas and his Rogergnomes in 1984-5 that agriculture was the sunset industry and we had to look to the new sunrise industries of high technology and financial services. Where are they? Scarcely above the horizon.

"Let's learn from our mistakes and develop a truly export friendly economy which will benefit all export industries, including our traditional major primary industries. If, in such an economy, the new education industries can succeed in reducing our dependence on traditional primary industries, that will be a very valuable bonus," concludes Mr Howard.


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