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Trade shock: Australia's worst ever deficit.

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CRAIG EMERSON Member for Rankin


29 May 2003

Trade shock: Australia’s worst ever deficit

Australia has recorded its worst trade deficit in history, following an eight per cent slump in exports.

The shocking $3.1 billion trade deficit exceeds the previous record deficit of $3.0 billion recorded just four months earlier.

The Howard Government has now strung together 17 consecutive trade deficits with no end in sight.

Trade Minister Mark Vaile welcomed the previous record deficit as a sign of investor confidence in the Australian economy. He must be thrilled about this one!

The truth is the Howard Government has achieved three dubious records:

1. Record trade deficit;

2. Record current account deficit; and consequently

3. Record foreign debt of $354 billion.

Australia has accumulated a massive $17 billion trade deficit in just 12 months.

The Government will blame the drought, SARS, terrorism, anything and anyone but itself. But it has returned Australia to a farm and a quarry, having failed to continue the diversification of Australia’s export base begun by Labor.

Non-rural exports fell seven per cent last month. Growth in sophisticated manufactured exports has slumped more than 60 per cent under this Government and Australia is losing market share in most of its major markets.

Having returned Australia to a farm and a quarry, the Government’s trade strategy is to pray for rain.

With no trade strategy and the Aussie dollar breaking through the US65 cent barrier, compared with the Budget assumption of US60 cents, the outlook for exports is grim.

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