LABOUR’S NEW TARIFF POLICY MAY MEAN MORE ALLIANCE POLICY

  • Dr Lockwood Smith
International Trade

The Labour Party's U-turn on import tariffs increases the risk of New Zealand having to endure the Alliance Party's tariff policy, according to Trade Minister Lockwood Smith.

Labour's Finance spokesperson Michael Cullen yesterday signalled a U-turn on tariff policy which would require the repeal of the Tariff (Zero Duty) Amendment Act, which provides a programme of tariff reductions that was developed in consultation with New Zealand manufacturers.

"Labour's u-turn throws the Alliance's tariff policy into the spotlight, because Dr Cullen may find that Mr Anderton requires additional concessions, including the implementation of his five percent tariff on all goods and services, except those imported from Australia," Dr Smith said.

"Re-introducing import tariffs will not save New Zealand jobs. As New Zealand succeeds in its transition to a knowledge-based economy, some change in the nature of jobs is inevitable. New Zealand's success will be measured in terms of its ability to support those people who bear the brunt of change through welfare support, retraining opportunities, and an economy that delivers more and better jobs.

"The National-led Government has a sound record of delivering on these objectives. Since 1991, 278,000 new jobs have been created in New Zealand, and we're leading the world by providing one-on-one case-management to assist beneficiaries re-enter the workforce.

"Labour's new tariff policy is counter-productive. While claiming to support a knowledge-based economy, Labour's proposed tariff freeze seeks to prevent that change occurring. But the private sector will respond to changes in the global economy by striving to manufacture higher value products, and Labour's policy would simply hobble New Zealand businesses' ability to respond to changes positively and create more and better jobs.

"Reducing import tariffs is not an end in itself. The National-led Government's commitment to eliminating tariffs is an important part of our strategy to improve the living standards of all New Zealand families.

"Labour's policy on tax, the Employment Contracts Act, ACC and now tariffs will cost New Zealand jobs, and harm those families that are least well off," Dr Smith concluded.