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New Zealand To Build Up Links With ASEAN Countries

19 September 2001

New Zealand would work with Australia and 10 south-east Asian countries to increase regional integration, Trade Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said New Zealand, Australia, and the Association of South East Asian Nation countries had taken a significant step towards a Closer Economic Partnership agreement linking ASEAN countries and CER countries.

Representatives of the twelve countries involved endorsed a formal framework and an initial work programme for a CEP during a meeting in Ha Noi on 16 September.

All agreed to work towards regional economic integration in order to attract trade and investment to the region, and bolster economic growth. Initial areas of cooperation will involve customs, e-commerce, standards and conformance, and barriers to trade.

Mr Sutton said greater integration and the reduction of trade barriers would benefit New Zealand businesses operating in this dynamic region.

In the year to June 2001, our exports to ASEAN increased 44 per cent to $2.8 billion. Imports from the region increased 23 per cent over the same period to $2.5 billion.

"Over time, the CEP process should benefit all twelve economies."

The meeting also agreed to establish an AFTA(ASEAN Free Trade Area)/CER Business Advisory Council. This Council will provide the opportunity for high-level ASEAN and CER business representatives to have their direct input into the CEP process.

The ASEAN countries are Brunei, Cambodia Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

Ends




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