Trans-Tasman business summit sees PMs commit to SME exports initiative
By Pattrick Smellie in Sydney
March 2 (BusinessDesk) - Trans-Tasman travel bureaucracy, e-commerce frameworks, regulatory costs and other barriers to small and medium-sized businesses trading with one another are to be the subject of a joint investigation by the Australian and New Zealand governments.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull announced the initiative at the annual Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum luncheon hosted by the Trans-Tasman Business Circle in Sydney, attended by some 900 businesspeople from both sides of the Tasman, including eight New Zealand Cabinet members.
Forum co-chair Adrian Littlewood said the event may have been "the biggest luncheon in Sydney's recent past".
The announcement came against a backdrop of bilateral talks and a speech by Foreign Minister Winston Peters that focused particularly on growing concerns about the growing contest for influence in the Pacific region, with the rise of China both globally and in the region and the decline of US leadership in global affairs.
Peters announced in a speech to the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank, that there would be a "reset" in New Zealand's policy towards the countries of the Pacific Islands.
Ardern said the SME initiative was "the next step in CER and an extension of the potential that exists in the agenda for a Trans-Tasman Single Economic Market (SEM)".
A joint review of policy and regulatory frameworks would seek "to ensure that they are creating an environment in which trans-Tasman digital trade is as open and facilitative as they are for conventional trade.
"We want to see progress sped up in relation to smaller businesses especially in areas like the streamlining of trans-Tasman travel. “Business has been telling us for a while about the benefits of e-invoicing, and removing departure cards, and other barriers to business, such as regulatory costs and some duplicated processes," said Ardern.