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New figures confirm appalling trade performance.



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FOR MEDIA

CRAIG EMERSON Member for Rankin

SHADOW MINISTER FOR INNOVATION, INDUSTRY AND TRADE

21 May 2003

NEW FIGURES CONFIRM APPALLING TRADE PERORMANCE

Official figures released today confirm what Labor has been saying and the Government has been denying: Australia has recorded its worst export slump since Melbourne hosted the Olympics in 1956.

The annual composition of trade figures, released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, confirm total exports fell last year and sophisticated manufactured exports fell a massive seven per cent.

The Howard Government is returning Australia to a farm and a quarry, with primary commodity exports accounting for 63 per cent of total merchandise exports in 2002, compared with 59 per cent in Labor’s last year in office. And according to Peter Costello, 2002 was the worst drought year in 100 years.

The Howard Government has failed to continue the diversification of Labor’s export base begun by Labor.

The Government blames the drought, but how is a drought responsible for a seven per cent slump in Australia’s exports of high-value manufactured goods?

Then the Government blames a global economic slowdown, but the truth is Australia is losing market share in all our major markets.

The Government’s trade strategy is to blame everything and everyone else and pray for rain.

The Budget forecasts that net exports will continue to drag down Australia’s economic growth in the coming financial year, after stripping a massive 2 ¾ percentage points off the current year’s growth. But even these negative forecasts are looking optimistic against a present exchange rate of 65 US cents, compared with the Budget’s assumed exchange rate of US 60 cents.

Contact: Craig Emerson 0418 781 386