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Key Business Sectors in Annual CER Talks

Key Business Sectors in Annual CER Trade Ministers talks

The Minister for Trade Negotiations, Jim Sutton, hosted his Australian counterpart, Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile, for annual talks on 29-30 August in Christchurch.

"Under the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relationship Trade Agreement (CER), each of us is a major market and economic partner for the other. We will continue to build on the considerable achievements already made to simplify laws and regulations that affect trans-Tasman business," the Ministers said.

"CER is one of the world's most comprehensive and effective bilateral free trade agreements. It is a key framework for us both as we confront contemporary challenges. This is shown, for example, in the developing trans-Tasman dialogue in a number of areas including science and innovation, business law, industry issues, taxation and fisheries."

Ministers initiated a parallel trans-Tasman business dialogue with a focus on specific sectors: Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and dairy at this year's meeting. "These industries are vital for both countries", they said. "The dialogue was valuable in identifying areas for further trans-Tasman co-operation, including in third markets, and through the multilateral system. Cooperation in science and technology, and in capital markets could be focuses in future dialogues" the Ministers said.

"CER also provides an excellent base for the two countries to work together to reduce trade barriers through the WTO, APEC and in other regional trade agreements." The Ministers will work actively to ensure a productive meeting of key Trade Ministers, hosted by Mark Vaile in November, to build momentum in the WTO Doha Round.

"Australia and New Zealand together play a leading role in agricultural negotiations, especially through the Cairns Group. We will continue to work very closely to maximise our contribution and achieve a successful outcome" the Ministers said.

Ministers confirmed they would keep in close touch on their separate bids to enter free trade negotiations with the United States and hoped that each country would be able to enter negotiations in the near future.

Ministers also noted the value of working together on regional trade initiatives, including APEC and AFTA/CER, and undertook to cooperate as they pursued other bilateral CEPs.

The Ministers agreed to be ambitious in using the 20th Anniversary of CER in 2003 to highlight the ongoing value of this vital economic relationship and to profile CER internationally as a model for other free trade agreements.

CER 2001-02: The Year in Review

The Australian and New Zealand Trade Ministers reviewed work and welcomed progress on the continuing trans-Tasman trade and economic agenda, including the following:

Regulatory Cooperation

· Significant convergence taking place between our respective business law regimes, seeking to ensure that they reflect developing international norms.

· Advances in the work programme to coordinate business laws to increase their effectiveness and to reduce compliance costs for companies operating in both countries. Very constructive officials' talks held in Canberra recently focused on the mutual recognition of securities offerings, the mutual recognition of company registrations, insolvency issues and accounting standards.

· The report on the recent stocktake of the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement and preparations to conduct a formal review of the Arrangement in 2003.

· The encouraging and forward looking negotiations on a proposed joint trans-Tasman therapeutics regulatory agency, including the extensive public consultations that have been undertaken in both countries.

· The establishment of Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the successor to Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA), incorporating improvements to the governance arrangements for the joint food standards system.

· The recent release by the Australian Treasurer and the New Zealand Minister of Finance of a discussion paper which proposes a solution to the problem of triangular taxation.

· The recognition that an early study would help to determine whether the Rules of Origin under CER still represents the optimal approach.

· Agreement that both countries would continue to explore opportunities for further regulatory cooperation that removed impediments to trans-Tasman economic activity and supported the development of strong, globally competitive companies in New Zealand and Australia.


· The close cooperation between the Australian and New Zealand Customs Services on improving the efficiency of border operations, on the introduction of new technology, including electronic certification, and on progressing initiatives in APEC and other multilateral contexts.


· The close and constructive relationship between the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry ? Australia, the effective operation of the Consultative Group on Biosecurity Cooperation, and the regular contact over multilateral issues of common interest, including in the standards-setting bodies.

· The work continuing on outstanding access issues, the resolution of Australia's access request for all varieties of tomatoes, and Australia's commitment to further progress in resolving New Zealand's access request for apples.

Science and Innovation

· Agreement to continue a regular dialogue on science and innovation cooperation and to explore opportunities for joint projects involving the private sector.

· Proposals to cooperate on science projects being pursued between New Zealand and the State Governments of Victoria and Queensland, following the New Zealand Prime Minister's Economic Mission to Australia in May 2002.

Industry Competitiveness

· The potential for closer collaboration between industry sectors in both countries in the interests of maximising the global competitiveness of Australian and New Zealand companies.

· The valuable discussions that had taken place between representatives of the dairy sector and the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in parallel discussions in Christchurch.

· Proposals to initiate a regular trans-Tasman dialogue on industry competitiveness issues, in consultation with industry.


· The signing of the Air Services Agreement and the progress on mutual recognition of aviation certification that would enable airlines to take full advantage of the Open Skies arrangement.

· The recent decision to exchange information on coastal shipping regimes and to engage further on assessing the costs and benefits associated with the inscriptions on shipping that both countries retain under the CER Services Protocol.

· The increasingly important part that trade in services plays in the trans-Tasman economic relationship and the commitment by both countries to review on a regular basis the remaining inscriptions to the CER Services Protocol in order to remove them as soon as domestic circumstances allowed.


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