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Trade Minister On CER Extension

MEDIA STATEMENT

4 August 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TRADE MINISTER WELCOMES CONSTRUCTIVE APPROACH TO CER EXTENSION

Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and Trade Minister Lockwood Smith today said they were delighted Australia and New Zealand had agreed on looking for opportunities to extend the CER agreement to other countries.

Dr Smith welcomed Australia's constructive approach to extending the Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement, announced as part of the Joint Prime Ministerial Taskforce on Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations.

Dr Smith said that he was particularly pleased that the Joint Prime Ministerial Task Force had discussed the scope for extending CER, and agreed to consider extending the agreement to other countries or regional groups.

"The gains of CER, to both New Zealand and Australia, have been significant," said Dr Smith.

"Total two-way trade with our Australian cousins has increased by over 400% since CER's inception, which is greater than with any of either country's other major trading partners.

"For New Zealand over the past ten years, CER has contributed to significant increases in our trade with Australia. Our manufactured exports to Australia have almost doubled to half a billion dollars. Dairy products and food have more than doubled. Clothing exports are nearly ten times higher, and the value of our exports of footwear have increased three-fold.

"CER clearly provides an excellent template for delivering mutual benefits through trade liberalisation, and the agreement to consider its expansion to other countries or regional groupings is logical, and offers huge potential benefits to New Zealand exporters.

"CER shows that New Zealand companies can compete and win. It demonstrates that free trade works for New Zealanders, and that we don't need to cower behind trade barriers as the Alliance would have us do," Dr Smith concluded.

ENDS

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