• John Luxton

"The Government has not announced the outcome of the current general tariff review. This is still in progress. No decision has yet been made. For Labour to pretend it has is surprising and wrong," Hon John Luxton, Minister of Commerce said today.

This follows comments by the Labour Party commerce spokeperson spokesperson, Paul Swain earlier today.

"It is very surprising that this sort grandstanding would come from Labour given that Labour started the process of tariff reductions in 1986. Labour understand how the process works because they set it up. Labour know that no decision has been made on what the specific tariff regime will be for general tariff after the year 2000. Labour should be wearing red faces, not red socks over this issue.

"While the Government has announced that car tariffs will be reduced to zero by 1 December 2000, the current general tariff review is quite separate and may or may not have a similar outcome.

"At this stage of the review process, I have an open mind on the appropriate speed of general tariff reductions.

"I know that there are many people interested in this issue and I have spent some time on factory floors talking to employees and employers on issues associated with their sector.

"I welcome the Labour Party's support of the Government in tariff reduction. It is also good to see that like this Government they want a "modern, diverse manufacturing sector". In the year to January 1998 manufactured exports reached a record $8,127 million, six percent higher than the previous year. Elaborately transformed manufactures hit a new high of $5613 million. And over 200,000 new jobs have been created since the early 1990's.

"The key issue of the speed of that tariff reduction is yet to be decided. I have an open mind at this stage. As Labour know, a decision is not yet made, and will not be announced until mid year. But I am pleased that Labour yet again support this Governments policy," Mr Luxton concluded.