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Exports in decline for nine months

National's Trade spokesman, Dr Lockwood Smith, says the negative trend in New Zealand's export income has continued right up to the end of 2002.

"Overseas Merchandise Trade data released today shows that New Zealand's exports have been in decline now for 9 months.

"Since March last year, each month has seen fewer export dollars earned than for the same month in 2001," Dr Smith says.

"For the year ended December 2002, export earnings were down 5.1% compared with the previous year.

"Five percent may not sound like a huge decrease but it follows two years where export income increased 24.1% in 2000 and 11.7% in 2001.

"The turnaround in the export trend is massive," Dr Smith notes.

"Economic growth is now largely dependent on immigration driven domestic demand, that's not a sustainable recipe and Dr Cullen must know it.

"If it continues, we can expect to see our trade deficit start to burgeon.

"Already for the year to the end of November 2002, the trade deficit is more than a billion dollars," he says.

"The low dollar/high commodity price economic tail wind of Labour's first term in office is quickly fading.

"Now the policies Labour has enacted - the Local Government Act, OSH legislation, ACC renationalisation, higher taxes and the canning of significant RMA reforms, not to mention further labour market regulation - will soon start to bite.

"Jim Anderton's photo opportunity handouts to lucky businesses are no substitute for sound policy when the going gets tougher," concluded Dr Smith.




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