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ASEAN/CER trade deal applauded

Media statement Friday, August 29th, 2008

ASEAN/CER trade deal applauded

The conclusion of the free trade agreement between the 10 ASEAN countries and CER partners Australia and New Zealand is most welcome, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

The agreement was officially reached during the annual ASEAN-CER ministerial meeting in Singapore yesterday. The final agreement is expected to be signed in December in Bangkok.

"Coming on top of our FTA with China, the agreement with the ASEAN group builds even more security into our trading future," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"Two-way trade between the 12 participating countries rose 17 percent from $41 billion in 2006 to $47.8 billion last year.

"In 2007 direct investment from Australia and New Zealand going into ASEAN rose to $1.1 billion.

"The expectation seems well founded that the agreement will, as officially stated, 'pave the way to enhancing the region's economic integration and acting as an impetus to deepen and broaden the trade and investment among the twelve participating countries.'

"The deal covers goods, investment, and trade in services, financial services, telecommunications, electronic commerce, and movement of natural persons, intellectual property, competition policy and economic cooperation.

"Three of the participating countries producing motor vehicles have still to agree how to treat them but everything else is locked in. Once agreement on motor vehicles is reached the FTA will be ready for ratifying.

"The 10 ASEAN countries - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam - have a combined population of over 550 million people, third after China and India, and a combined GDP of estimated at around US$1 trillion, second only to China in emerging Asia.

"Its significant that ASEAN is a larger trading partner for Australia (16 per cent) than any single country, including Japan (13 per cent), China (12 per cent) or the United States (11 per cent).

"Overseas Trade Minister Phil Goff is to be congratulated for his work in expediting the ASEAN/CER FTA for New Zealand," Mr Thompson said.


ENDS

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