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Manufactured exports plunge, jobs go as Nats fail to act

Russel Norman MP
Russel Norman MP
russel [dot] norman [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)
What good are cheaper luxuries if you’ve lost your job and are struggling to buy the groceries

New data shows that the value of manufactured exports fell by nearly 7 percent last year as the high dollar hurt Kiwi businesses and contributed to 17,000 job losses in the manufacturing sector, Green Party Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

"National's failure to act on the dollar is killing our manufacturing sector," said Dr Norman.

"These numbers show that manufacturers are being squeezed out of export markets by our over-valued currency.

"That means reduced export revenues for New Zealand to pay its way in the world, and thousands fewer jobs for Kiwis to support their families," said Dr Norman.

The latest Overseas Merchandise Trade figures, released by Statistics New Zealand today, show that manufactured exports for the year to January 2013 were worth $11.3 billion, a 7 percent fall from the $12.1 billion a year before. Adjusted for inflation, manufactured exports are at the lowest level since the series began in 2002.

There are 17,000 fewer people working in manufacturing than a year ago, according to Statistics New Zealand's Household Labourforce Survey.

The value of primary exports was also hit by the exchange rate, falling 5 percent over the year. Falling primary and manufactured exports are the principal reason why the trade deficit blew out to $1.2 billion in the last year.

"We cannot go on like this, sacrificing businesses and jobs on the altar of a failed ideology that says governments mustn't intervene in the currency markets," said Dr Norman.

"The fact is, most of our major trading partners are intervening in the currency markets to benefit their own economies and it's New Zealand that is paying the price through an over-inflated dollar.

"It simply defies belief that John Key is arguing the high dollar is a good thing because it makes flat-screen TVs and overseas holidays cheaper. What good are cheaper luxuries if you've lost your job and are struggling to buy the groceries?

"National has led us to a situation where we are more indebted; where the high-wage, high-skill manufacturing jobs are disappearing fast; where Kiwis are fleeing across the Tasman at a rate of 1,000 a week; and where we are dependent on exports of volatile, extractive commodities like coal, rather than smart, green manufacturing companies.

"That's not a brighter future for New Zealand; Kiwis deserve better," said Dr Norman.

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