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Economic relations between NZ and Australia grow

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

6 March 2008
Media statement

Economic relations between New Zealand and Australia grow further

New Zealand and Australian Trade Ministers Phil Goff and Simon Crean met today in Melbourne and agreed to continue to seek out new opportunities for closer economic relations.

Their wide-ranging talks covered shared multilateral and regional trade agendas, as well as key aspects of bilateral trade.

New Zealand and Australia share a unique economic relationship through their involvement in one of the world’s most successful free trade agreements – the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement. Two-way trade in goods and services has expanded by an average of 9 per cent per year up to 2008, the CER’s 25th anniversary year, to around $24 billion (AUD$21 billion) per annum.

Ministers reaffirmed New Zealand and Australia’s shared commitment to a successful WTO Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, and discussed opportunities to act jointly to progress negotiations on shared critical interests in agriculture, industrial products and services.

The Ministers confirmed APEC’s role as the pre-eminent regional economic forum and a vital institution for shaping the regional trade architecture, and discussed the evolving role of free trade agreements in encouraging free trade throughout Asia and the Pacific.

They emphasised the benefits that CER had brought to both economies since its 1983 signing, and agreed that the two countries need to continue to enhance our bilateral trade and integrate their economies.

The Ministers said that CER is a model bilateral free trade agreement. Its quality, depth and breadth, demonstrate what can be achieved with a truly comprehensive approach to bilateral trade liberalisation. It sets a benchmark for free trade agreements now being pursued in the Asia-Pacific region. Its 25th anniversary is an opportunity for both countries not just to celebrate its success but to build on it in practical ways.

The Single Economic Market (SEM) program – which complements CER by seeking greater harmonisation of trans-Tasman economic regulation and addressing behind-the-border impediments to trade – is also a major priority.

The Ministers expect cooperation will intensify further as both countries move towards introducing emissions trading schemes and other policies to support sustainable development.

Ministers also discussed the opportunity to bring the development and economic integration benefits to our Pacific island neighbours through a new and comprehensive “PACER Plus”, the next stage of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations.

The incredible success of the trans-Tasman CER experiment should encourage us to share high ambitions for boosting island countries' trade opportunities and sustainable prosperity, they said.

Progressing ‘PACER Plus’ arrangements will take time and patience. But a process of deeper regional economic integration as envisaged by Forum Leaders, carefully shaped in regional consultations to take account of the needs of small Pacific countries, will be essential if the region is to flourish.


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