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NZ/Thailand Closer Economic Partnership Agreement

1 December 2004
Media Statement

NZ/Thailand Closer Economic Partnership Agreement – joint statement

Prime Ministers Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand and Helen Clark of New Zealand today announced the successful conclusion of negotiations on a Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) Agreement between their two countries.

The two Prime Ministers, meeting in the margins of the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, recalled their commitment at the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok a year earlier to undertake a joint study and then to negotiate a CEP.

The joint study highlighted the benefits to both countries from closer economic integration and cooperation under a bilateral CEP.

The leaders welcomed the rapid progress achieved towards bringing the Closer Economic Partnership to fruition. They have instructed officials to finalise the legal text and schedules as soon as possible, with a view to implementation of the Agreement on 1 July 2005.

The bilateral CEP is seen by both sides to be not just of economic importance but also strategically significant. The two Prime Ministers envisage the CEP serving as a building block for the regional ASEAN/Australia/New Zealand FTA initiative. It will make both countries more competitive in the global market place by encouraging Thais and New Zealanders to pool their expertise, ideas, technology and resources. The CEP also advances shared objectives in APEC and the WTO.

Prime Ministers Thaksin and Clark noted they were pleased with the outcome of the negotiations covering the following areas:
- The agreement provides for comprehensive coverage of trade in goods. All tariffs will be eliminated either on implementation or under phasing arrangements. On implementation, 71% of bilateral trade will be duty free and by 2010 this proportion is estimated to rise to 84%.
- Trade-facilitating provisions aimed at reducing transaction costs are included on quarantine measures, standards and conformance and customs procedures.
- Negotiations on an agreement to liberalise trade in services and which is consistent with both countries’ GATS commitments will commence within three years of the CEP entering into force.
- A solid framework is established for encouraging the flow of investment between the two countries.
- The two countries will cooperate on intellectual property rights matters and competition policy.
- On government procurement, the two countries will work progressively to eliminate barriers and envisage further substantive negotiations to expand the application of this Chapter.
- Both sides will ensure transparent administration of laws and regulations.

Prime Minister Thaksin welcomed New Zealand’s willingness in principle to contribute New Zealand expertise to the implementation of his Government’s adjustment strategy for the Thai dairy industry.

The two Prime Ministers also announced the conclusion of parallel negotiations on:
- bilateral arrangements on labour and environment, which lay out shared understandings and establish mechanisms for ongoing cooperation and dialogue on these issues;
- a cooperation arrangement between Customs agencies.

The leaders also announced agreement on a Working Holiday Scheme. This will provide for 100 young people from each country, aged between 18 and 30, to travel and work temporarily each year in the other country for twelve months.

"We see the freer flow of young people as a catalyst for furthering the bilateral partnership," the leaders said.

The Prime Ministers concluded that the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement, along with the other bilateral arrangements negotiated in parallel with the CEP, represent a major step forward in the bilateral relationship between Thailand and New Zealand.

ENDS

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