Opposition hears manufacturers' calls for lower dollar

An Opposition party inquiry into the manufacturing sector heard from a cross-section of exporters at Parliament today, all of whom argued a lower exchange rate was more important to them than any specific government support to their industry.

Led by New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association chief executive John Walley, the inquiry heard dire predictions about the state of the economy if its ability to manufacture elaborate, high-value products were allowed to continue eroding.

"The biggest thing is the exchange rate," says Mr Walley, a long-time critic of the Reserve Bank's singular focus on controlling inflation.

High-tech entrepreneur and Labour Party backer Selwyn Pellett told the inquiry his companies had exported more than $450 million of goods and services since starting in 2001, when the exchange rate was US39 cents, compared to US83 cents today.

Mr Pellett was uncertain he would have started his business if the exchange rate had been so high 12 years ago.

He was about to bank about $10 million in gains on the sale of his shareholding in Endace, a software company he helped found, but would not invest that sum back into the New Zealand economy at present.


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