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NZ & Aus Commit To More Business Law Integration

New Zealand And Australia Commit To Greater Business Law Integration

The New Zealand and Australian governments have today committed to further business law integration.

The Australian Minister for Financial Services and Regulation, the New Zealand Minister of Commerce and Trade Ministers from both sides of the Tasman have signed the arrangement on the coordination of Australia/New Zealand business law.

Speaking from Auckland today, Minister of Commerce, Paul Swain confirmed "The Memorandum of Understanding on Business Law Coordination should ultimately result in reduced costs associated with trans-Tasman business operations."

"The MOU is based on common-sense principles providing a framework for future cooperation on business law integration," said Australian Minister of Financial Services and Regulation, Joe Hockey.

The first of these is that ideally on any particular issue, a firm should only have to comply with one set of rules and deal with only one regulator. The second is that where practical, these rules should be similar to those that exist in other markets. This is to ensure that New Zealand and Australia will stay in step with international developments and the aspirations of our business sectors to make a mark on the world stage.

The revised MOU on Business Law Coordination includes a short, specific work programme covering areas of business law that have potential to provide substantial benefits to local business from co-ordination.

Australian Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile, who was also a signatory along with his New Zealand counterpart, Jim Sutton, observed "By providing a framework within which specific outcomes in business law alignment will be sought, this arrangement represents a significant advance in Australia/New Zealand economic integration and the elimination of trans-Tasman trade barriers."

"One of the main benefits we gain is in what it represents for the trans-Tasman relationship. It represents real progress in deepening CER", said Trade Minister Jim Sutton.
Initiative objectives include:
· driving business costs down through removing differences in laws and administrative systems,
· improving the effectiveness of the law, and
· reducing the cost of capital to business.

Mr Swain went on to emphasise that participation in this initiative creates a positive position for both countries in the increasing globalisation apparent in some areas of business law.

It will help present a united market and a stronger force on the international scene. It is also a vehicle for businesses to experiment on a smaller scale before entering the global market.

The integration of business laws will not happen overnight. Decisions on what laws to integrate and the most efficient approach to integration, such harmonisation, mutual recognition or even unilateral recognition, will be taken on a case by case basis. In setting priorities consideration will be given to the size of the problem to be addressed and the costs of change, and will take into account country specific needs and unique features.

Decisions on what laws to integrate and the best approach will be taken on a case by case basis, but the two governments have already agreed on a work programme.

In some areas work has already commenced. For example, in New Zealand, the proposed Electronic Transactions Bill will be based on a comparable Australian Act, and both are based on a United Nations Model Law on Electronic Commerce.

Officials have been tasked to develop defined actions and timeframes to progress the issues in the work programme. Ministers will review the outcomes of this work in the first half of 2001.

They also expect to identify further areas for co-operation, including the possibility of joint initiatives aimed at strengthening the position of both countries on the world stage.

The input from the business community will be important in determining priorities for co-operation, and the form that co-operation takes.

New Zealand and Australian officials will be discussing the feasibility of a joint business law forum to be held in association with the meeting of Ministers next year, with a view to gaining direct business input into the strategic direction for the co-ordination of the two countries' business laws.


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