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Another day, another deficit, more debt.



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FOR MEDIA

CRAIG EMERSON Member for Rankin

SHADOW MINISTER FOR INNOVATION, INDUSTRY AND TRADE

4 March 2003

Another day, another deficit, more debt

Australia’s January trade deficit of $1.4 billion is further adding to the nation’s record foreign debt and current account deficit.

Australia has now registered 14 successive trade deficits, but the worst is yet to come.

The 14 consecutive trade deficits total $12.7 billion.

The Government is already blaming the drought, but Australia’s non-agricultural exports have fallen in the last 12 months.

Next the Government is blaming an international economic slowdown, but Australia’s merchandise exports to East Asia, our dominant market, have fallen by five per cent in the last 12 months when the region has grown by nearly seven per cent. Using the Trade Minister’s preferred measure, exports to East Asia slumped nine per cent in January, compared with the corresponding month of the previous year.

The Government has run out of excuses. It must take responsibility for returning Australia to a farm and a quarry.

The Government has cut the Export Market Development Grants Scheme and the R&D tax concession. It has failed to invest in new skills and high-value export industries.

Growth in exports of sophisticated manufactured goods has slumped 60 per cent under the Howard Government.

The Government must re-engage with Asia instead of pursuing a trade deal that would give favoured access to US exporters at the expense of our Asian trading partners.

Last month Trade Minister Mark Vaile welcomed Australia’s record $3 billion trade deficit as signalling “investor confidence in the future growth of the Australian economy”.

Mr Vaile is completely delusional about Australia’s trade deficits - for him, it’s a case of the bigger the better.

The continuing downturn in the building industry, which began five months ago, is a further drag on Australia’s future economic growth.

Contact: Craig Emerson 0418 781 386 or Brendan Shaw 0413 013 501

Monthly Building Approvals - trend

8,000

9,000

10,000

11,000

12,000

13,000

14,000

15,000

16,000

17,000

Jan.1996 Jan.1997 Jan.1998 Jan.1999 Jan.2000 Jan.2001 Jan.2002 Jan.2003

Numbe

r

So urce: A B S cat . 8 73 1.0 .

Balance on goods and services - trend

-2,000

-1,500

-1,000

-500

0

500

1,000

Jan.1996 Jan.1997 Jan.1998 Jan.1999 Jan.2000 Jan.2001 Jan.2002 Jan.2003

$ m

Source: ABS cat. 5368.0.

Contact: Craig Emerson 0418 781 386 or Brendan Shaw 0413 013 501