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Australia records its largest ever annual trade deficit.

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KEVIN RUDD M.P. Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security

2 AUGUST 2005


Australia recorded its largest ever trade deficit of $25.5 billion last financial year - a seven per cent increase on the previous year’s record deficit of $23.8 billion.

This is Australia’s 44th consecutive monthly trade deficit - a record for any Australian Government.

The Howard Government has now recorded significant trade deficits over the past seven years - an appalling record for any government.

Despite strong global economic growth, record commodity prices and our highest terms of trade in fifty years, Australian exports were still well below imports last year.

The Government's failure to skill and train Australian workers, invest in infrastructure and encourage greater levels of R&D and innovation has reduced our productivity - a key driver of export growth.

Australia is now experiencing its worst productivity growth in 19 years. OECD productivity measures consistently show that output per person per hour in Australia is well below that in other OECD countries, including the US and the EU.

Without improved productivity Australian exports will continue to stagnate and our trade deficit will continue to grow.

Four years ago Mr Vaile set a target for Australia to double the number of exporters from 25,000 to 50,000 by 2006. The reality is the number of exporters in Australia has actually decreased over the past two years.

The Howard Government is running out of excuses for Australia’s catastrophic export performance.

It is time for Mr Vaile to outline a national exports recovery strategy in order to take pressure off Australia’s record current account deficit and create the conditions for long term, sustainable economic growth. Ends. 2 August 2005 Media contact: Alister Jordan 0417 605 823