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Govt rebuffs manufacturing 'crisis'

The manufacturing inquiry launched by opposition political parties is being rubbished by the government, which says there's no crisis in the sector.

The inquiry, involving Labour, the Greens, NZ First and Mana, opened on Monday with submissions from company bosses, the Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing union - who all identified the high Kiwi dollar as the number one issue affecting manufacturing.

They urged the government to allow the Reserve Bank to intervene to bring down the exchange rate.

The government is not taking part in the inquiry, and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce told Radio New Zealand there's no doubt manufacturers face challenges, but he rejects talk of a crisis.

"The reality is just like any industry it's challenging at different times and for different companies, and it all depends on their mix of inputs - where they get their business from, who they're selling to and all those things.

"There is no generic crisis in manufacturing, but I would certainly acknowledge it's challenging for some countries."

Mr Joyce says it's giving "false hope" to suggest the government can have a large influence on where the New Zealand dollar sits against the US dollar.

"Every change in the exchange rate, positive or negative, depending on your point of view, is positive or negative for somebody else," he said.

Mr Joyce says the dollar is high for some exporters but he believes it will fall back during this year.

On Monday, EPMU general secretary Bill Newson was clear that his union believes the sector is in crisis, saying it has lost 40,000 jobs since 2008.

"Over last year we had an average two companies a week notifying redundancies as a result of downsizing, closing down or sending work overseas," he said.

"In all of those cases there was a common denominator - the high value and volatility of the New Zealand dollar."