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Trade, Statistics and Mr Kerin



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P A R L IA M E N T O F A U S T R A L IA

H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T IV E S

HON. ANDREW PEACOCK, M.P. MEMBER FOR KOOYONG SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE

PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA, A.C.T. 2600 TEL. (06) 277 4720, 277 4419 FAX. (06) 277 4990

LEVEL 16 90 COLLINS STREET MELBOURNE, VIC. 3000 TEL. (03) 650 3455

FAX. (03) 650 5115

PRESS RELEASE BY HON. ANDREW PEACOCK, MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE TRADE. STATISTICS AND MR KERIN

The Shadow Minister for Trade, Andrew Peacock, said today that claims by the Government that Australia's trade performance had significantly improved were wrong.

Mr Peacock said that statistics quoted by the Minister for Trade and Overseas Development, John Kerin, to show growth in

Australia's exports did not depict an adequate picture of

Australia's trade performance because Australia's proportion of world exports had in fact deteriorated.

Mr Peacock said, "John Kerin is playing a pea and thimble trick with the figures.

"The facts and figures tabled by Mr Kerin were selective. I do not deny their veracity. The point is that they do not tell the whole truth because they do not depict the full picture.

"The reality is that although Australia has increased its exports in recent years, especially exports of manufactures, so has the rest of the world. The point is that our growth in exports,

including exports of manufactures, has deteriorated relative to world growth in exports, including exports of manufactures.

"Taking the period 1960-69 as a benchmark, Australia's share of world exports has declined from an average of 1.8 per cent to 1.47 per cent in 1970-79, to 1.24 per cent in 1980-85 and to 1.2 per cent in 1986-90.

"That is an overall deterioration of one-third. The pattern is far from good for a country dependent on trade, as Australia is.

"It is just absurd to say, as the Government has been saying, that our trading position is better because manufacturing today comprises 20 per cent of all merchandise exports compared to 12 per cent in 1982-83.

"Part of the reason for the changing trade mix has been the

decline in exports of agriculture and mining commodities, relative to the decline in exports of manufactures in the mid- 1980s.

"It is pointless for the Government to claim, as it has done, that the Government has increased exports of elaborately

transformed manufactures (ETMs) by an annual rate of 15 per cent over the last five years when statistics show that Australia's exports of manufactures as a proportion of total world exports

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of manufactures has declined since Labor came to Government in 1983/ and that included a significant decline in exports of manufacturing in 1986 and 1987.

"The recent increase in exports of manufacturing simply

represents an improvement over the earlier decline. If Labor wants to take credit for the improvement since 1987, will it also take credit for the decline in exports of manufactures from 1984

to 1987?

"The truth of the matter is that exports of manufactures have increased in recent years in line with the world increase in exports of manufactures and in line with the increased intra- regional trade in the Asia-Pacific region, to a large extent only

following in the slip-stream of the region's phenomenal economic growth.

"Australian manufacturing has only followed in the slip-stream of the economic growth being experienced in such economies as Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, and others among the regions so-called economic 'tigers' and 'mini-dragons'.

"It is important to also note that manufacturing has failed to improve its position in these export markets, and in some cases has lost market share to our competitors.

"This is an important point because international trade is about competition with other countries. If we are losing market share to them we are not doing wel l : We are losing.

"The examples I have used speak for themselves. Australia's share of China's total imports declined from 5 per cent to just two per cent during the period Australia was claiming to have established a "special" relationship with Beijing, while the Newly Industrialised Economies (NIEs) of Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore managed to increase their market share by more than eight-fold from 4 per cent to 33 per cent. In the Hong Kong

market Australia's share declined from 2 per cent to just one per cent while China's rose from 20 to 36 per cent. In Japan, our

most important trading partner, Australia's share remained static at 5 per cent while the US and the EC increased their market

share from 17 to 23 per cent and 6 to 16 per cent respectively. Australia's share of the Malaysian market fell from 6 per cent to 4 per cent while the US increased its share of the Malaysian market from 15 to 17 per cent and the NIEs increased their share

from 17 to 25 per cent. Australia's share of the important

markets of Singapore and Taiwan have remained static at 2 and 3 per cent respectively while the shares of other countries in those markets have increased markedly.

"Looked at from this perspective, Australia's trade record in the region of most importance to it has been disappointing and

necessitates a change in our trade strategy."

ends. Canberra, 15 October 1992. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW CONTACT ALISTAIR NICHOLAS ON (06) 277 4720 OR (06) 231 5306 A.H.

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