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Warning in latest trade figures

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ANDREW PEACOCKi ____ i ___ λ ________________ ___

The Opposition Leader, Mr Andrew Peacock, said today the Government- had to take heed o f the warning contained in the la te s t balance o f payments fig u re s i f the te n ta tiv e economic recovery was to continue.

, Mr Peacock was commenting on the balance o f payments fig u re s ju s t released by the S ta tis tic s Bureau fo r the month o f January, the December quarter o f la s t year and the f i r s t seven months o f fis c a l 1984-85.

... j - He said A u s tra lia 's worsening in te rn a tio n a l trade and balance o f

' ’ payments s itu a tio n should be a warning to the Government about it s present economic p o lic ie s . . ·

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' ’ "Too l i t t l e notice has been taken o f the adverse tre n d ,in our trade

balances in recent months, despite the fa c t th a t January, 1985 shows the seventh successive balance o f trade d e f ic it , " he said.

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"The d e f ic it on current.account fo r the month was a massive $1,136 m illio n Compared w ith $455 m illio n in January, 1984, and the d e f ic it fo r the .

seven months was $6,881 m illio n compared w ith only $3,934 m illio n p re v jo u s ly ."

Mr Peacock said the'problems on the in te rn a tio n a l trade .account could provide a p o in te r to economic problems ahead. · , .

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"The continued decline o f the A u stra lia n d o lla r against it s US .

counterpart is making A u stra lia n exports cheaper on wgrld markets a t the present tim e ," he said.

"But i t is also making our im p o rts'‘dearer in A u stra lia n d o lla r terms 5-hd th is could add to in fla tio n a ry trends in the fu tu re as higher import prices

flow through to the wholesale and r e ta il le v e l. '

"At the same tim e, the higher in fla tio n ra te in A u s tra lia (compared to our major tra d in g partners) and more rapid wages growth, are serving to make our p o s itio n on world markets le ss, not more, co m p e titiv e ," he said.

' "This is a ll the more important w ith a 2.7 per cent across-the-board

increase in national wage rates ahead o f us and the p o s s ib ility o f a fu rth e r

ris e in the p ro d u c tiv ity case, i f the ACTU has it s way. ‘

"Any fu rth e r increase in costs to A u stra lia n businesses, whether they compete on in te rn a tio n a l markets or compete against imports a t home, can only serve to make them less com petitive at th is c ru c ia l tim e ," he said.

"The Government must keep the 1 id on wages and other in d u stry costs i f A u s tra lia is to be able to compete on world markets, show fu rth e r economic . improvement and continue to improve the jobs ou tlook.

, "The worsening in te rn a tio n a l trade s itu a tio n simply cannot a ffo rd to

be ignored i f the A ustra lian economy is to take advantage o f the recovery and the lower rates o f in fla tio n enjoyed to d a te ," he said.

Inquiries: 0 6 2 - 7 2 6 9 9 4 12 February 1985