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Task Force Agreement Takes CER Forward

New Zealand and Australia have agreed to actively consider extending the Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement to other countries or regional groups, New Zealand Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

The countries have also reached agreements on long-standing social security, investment and business issues.

Mrs Shipley and Australian Prime Minister John Howard today released the outcomes of the Prime Ministerial task force on CER, which they launched in February during Mr Howard's visit to New Zealand.

"The agreements we have come to will take CER forward to a new level of co-operation," Mrs Shipley said.

"CER has been a great success for both countries and, in launching the task force, we were determined to keep it evolving to stay abreast of business's requirements,” Mrs Shipley said.

"The Joint Communique, which was released today in Wellington and Canberra, shows that the task force has made considerable progress on many fronts.

“One area of importance is the agreement by Australia to collect child support from New Zealand mums and dads who have left New Zealand for Australia and are not currently supporting their children by making payments,” Mrs Shipley said.

"These decisions will insure that CER continues to work to improve co-operation between the two countries. They will make sure it is meeting the needs of New Zealanders and Australians in the next century."

The key outcomes of the task force are agreements for:

 CER to consider free trade arrangements with other significant economies or groups;
 Liberalisation of investment rules to allow easier trans-Tasman investment;
 Commitment to untertake a full review of social security arrangements between Australia and New Zealand to establish a new Social Security Agreement;
 An interim arrangement to simplify social security arrangements between Australia and New Zealand, with New Zealand to reimburse Australia more fully for its social security costs;
 A new Child Support Agreement to be in place by 1 July 2000 to provide for more equitable payment arrangements for New Zealand and Australian parents;
 Exploration of the scope for better harmony of business regimes between New Zealand and Australia.
 More Customs co-operation to make trade easier;
 Co-operation and co-ordination of oceans policy.

“CER has delivered huge benefits to New Zealand and Australia. It is one of the most comprehensive free trade agreements in the world, and has seen trade increase by 400 percent during a 15-year period.

“These are further refinements which cement in good relations and an ongoing strong working relationship,” Mrs Shipley said.


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