New Zealand First says sawmill workers will be 'losers' in removal of tariffs on building material imports, accuses government of subsidizing foreign cheap-labor steel, cement, plasterboard producers instead of utilizing domestic wood-processing industry

WELLINGTON, New Zealand , May 16, 2014 (press release) – New Zealand First says forestry businesses and sawmill workers will be the real losers from the Government’s removal of tariffs on imported building materials.

Spokesperson for Primary Industries Richard Prosser said the budget removal of tariffs is another nail in the coffin for New Zealand manufacturing and processing of primary commodities like timber.

“We have an entire city to rebuild in Christchurch, we have an outstanding earthquake-proof building material in wood, we have a well-developed forestry industry with a good processing infrastructure, and instead of utilising it, employing New Zealanders in the process, the Government decides to subsidise foreign cheap-labour producers of steel, cement, and plasterboard,” says Mr Prosser.

“Saving up to $3,500 on the cost of building a house by letting in cheap second-rate imports is dumb economics and it puts New Zealand firms out of business and New Zealand workers on the dole.

“We’re spending hard-earned foreign exchange on building materials for which in many cases we have good domestically produced alternatives,” said Mr Prosser. “Plywood, flooring board, laminated beams, framing timber, linear board – the list goes on.”

“Who is this Government working for – businesses and workers in New Zealand, or factory owners in Asia?

“Many timber industry businesses are struggling as it is, completely unnecessarily, and this latest ideologically driven piece of economic stupidity is a kick in the teeth for them.

“When we do have to nail the wood industry up in a box, it’ll be a box made from New Zealand timber, exported as a log, built in some foreign factory, and then shipped back again,” says Mr Prosser.

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