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Business Forum Welcomes New Asian Trade Negotiation

Media release, 21 November 2012

International Business Forum Welcomes New Asian Trade Negotiation

The New Zealand International Business Forum has welcomed the announcement that the ten members of ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) and six other economies including New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, Korea and India, intend to negotiate a new free trade agreement known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

“This is a further sign that New Zealand’s home is in Asia” said NZIBF Chairman Sir Graeme Harrison.

“This negotiation will build on New Zealand and Australia’s existing high quality free trade agreement with ASEAN and will bring both the giant North Asian economies and India into the same network. The initiation of a free trade negotiation with Japan is particularly welcome: Japan is now the only Asian economy with which New Zealand neither has an FTA or a negotiation underway. A closer trade and economic relationship with Japan is strongly supported by New Zealand business and would be benefit to both countries”.

The RCEP announcement was made at the East Asia Summit meeting in Phnom Penh which is being attended by Prime Minister Key and Trade Minister Groser. The announcement follows several years of preparatory work by officials.

“We congratulate those associated with this initiative which demonstrates new leadership by the ASEAN economies. I can see several years of hard work by negotiators ahead to bring this new agreement into effect. The effort will be worth it: because of its wide coverage RCEP could be even bigger than the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in terms of its contribution to economic welfare.”

Sir Graeme emphasised that TPP and RCEP were mutually reinforcing as potential pathways to a wider Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).

“There can be many paths to a broader vision for regional economic integration. New Zealand is fortunate to be directly involved in both major initiatives. TPP is further advanced but both TPP and RCEP are significant and for New Zealand offer the possibility of eliminating barriers and reducing the cost of doing business, building the basis for economic growth and creating jobs”, concluded Sir Graeme.

Note to editors: ASEAN members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Singapore, Thailand, The Philippines and Viet Nam, which make up collectively the world’s ninth largest economy. Background about the Australia-ASEAN-New Zealand FTA can be found at Research by the East West Centre in Honolulu and the Petersen Institute for International Economics in Washington DC suggests that Asian trade liberalisation could be worth US$500 billion to the region’s economy by 2025 (see

About NZIBF (
NZIBF is a business organisation which aims to generate wealth for New Zealanders by helping ensure that New Zealand enterprises are fully integrated and engaged in the global economy and New Zealand’s global competitive position is maximised. NZIBF participants represent companies and sectors with a turnover of over $20 billion. NZIBF also provides policy advice to the New Zealand members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).


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