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Trade performance remains in doldrums.



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M E D I A R E L E A S E

Senator Stephen Conroy Deputy Opposition Leader in the Senate Shadow Minister for Trade

Trade Performance Remains in Doldrums

Australia’s trade deficit of $1.7 billion in February 2004 shows no improvement over the past 12 months.

The Government’s long talked about improvement in exports has not eventuated.

Total goods and services exports for February are still 7 per cent lower than last year.

Total goods exports are still 11 per cent lower than last year.

Australia’s merchandise exports to our major trading partners also continue to decline.

For the 8 months ending February 2004 compared to the previous year, Australia’s:

• exports to Japan declined by 17 per cent; • exports to the Republic of Korea declined by 14 per cent; and • exports to the US declined by 16 per cent.

The Howard Government has coasted off the back of a hyper-competitive Australian dollar and yet our exports have still fallen for the past two years.

The Government must use tomorrow’s Trade Statement to outline a new strategy for improving Australia’s productivity performance, enhancing the competitiveness of Australian exporters and opening up new markets for our exporters.

The Government must recommit Australia’s focus to the WTO Doha Round of trade negotiations to ensure 2004 is not another wasted year and it must utilise APEC at every opportunity to help drive the Doha Round towards a successful outcome for Australia.

30 March 2004

Contact: Stephen Conroy 0418 383 965 David Garner 04 004 124 04