Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement

2006 CER Ministerial Forum

Joint Communique

The Hon Mark Vaile MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Trade and The Hon Phil Goff MP, Minister of Trade, Minister for Trade Negotiations

The 2006 CER Ministerial Forum was held in Cairns on 20 September, hosted by the Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, the Hon Mark Vaile, with his colleagues the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, the Hon Ian Macfarlane and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon Peter McGauran. The New Zealand delegation was led by the Minister of Trade, the Hon Phil Goff, with his colleagues the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister for Biosecurity, the Hon Jim Anderton and the Minister of Commerce and Women’s Affairs and Minister for Small Business, the Hon Lianne Dalziel.

Since its inception 23 years ago, ANZCERTA (or CER) has been an extraordinary success in improving trans-Tasman trade and economic links. CER remains one of the most open and successful free trade agreements in the world covering free trade in all goods and almost all services; and together with its related arrangements, provides for the free movement of people and trans-Tasman mutual recognition for goods and occupational qualifications. Australia is New Zealand’s principal trading partner, and New Zealand is Australia’s fifth‑largest export market and seventh-largest source of imports. In 2005-06 trans-Tasman trade amounted to A$14.2 billion in goods. Trade in services amounted to A$4.7 billion in 2005. Bilateral investment amounts to around A$83 billion. Australia is New Zealand's principal investment partner, and New Zealand is the third largest destination for Australian investment abroad.

The engagement of Ministers responsible for trade, agriculture, and commerce and industry reflects the breadth of the trans-Tasman economic relationship, which now goes significantly beyond a very substantial trade relationship towards an extensive ‘behind the border’ programme under the Single Economic Market agenda.   

The Ministers noted that there had been good progress on many CER-related issues since the last Forum, including agreement to introduce new ANZCERTA Rules of Origin (ROO) by the anticipated commencement date of 1 January 2007 , based on a change of tariff classification (CTC) approach, extension of Australia’s Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) rebate to New Zealand wine producers and a review of the effectiveness of the Treaty Concerning a Joint Food Standards System, in meeting its objectives, including reducing barriers to trade. These are significant elements in the further development of a single economic market and a seamless regulatory environment.

The meeting agreed that adopting a CTC approach for ANZCERTA ROO will promote increased trade and more efficient industries on both sides of the Tasman by simplifying the rules, reducing costs for business and government and bringing ANZCERTA into line with international trends. NZ Ministers welcomed the extension of the WET rebate to New Zealand wine producers selling into the Australian market, with claims able to be lodged for sales made since 1 July 2005.

Ministers highlighted the significant developments in the trans-Tasman Single Economic Market (SEM) agenda since they last met. These included work in the areas of trans-Tasman banking supervision, cooperative activities on business law, mutual recognition of securities offerings and competition and consumer policy, all of which is aimed at creating a seamless business regulatory environment across the Tasman. Ministers welcomed the agreement to negotiate a CER investment protocol, noting the importance to both countries of liberalized investment flows.

Ministers noted that mutual recognition of Australian and New Zealand regulatory regimes under the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA) continues to play a critical role in the further evolution of a trans‑Tasman single economic market for goods and the free flow of people engaged in registered occupations across the Tasman. In this context Ministers reaffirmed the importance of working together under the TTMRA by launching an updated Users’ Guide to the Mutual Recognition Agreement and Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (PDF). The Users’ Guide is designed to assist exporters, people in registered occupations, policy makers and regulators in both countries to understand better the mutual recognition schemes and to ensure that their benefits are fully realized.

The meeting noted that improving the regulatory environment was an important objective for both Governments so that all businesses, large and small, can prosper and grow. Australia briefed New Zealand on its recently announced response to the “Banks” Taskforce report: Rethinking Regulation: Report of the Taskforce on Reducing Regulatory Burdens on Business. New Zealand briefed Australia on its equivalent Quality Regulation Review, due to be completed by mid 2007. Ministers noted the opportunity the respective reviews provided to further align trans-Tasman regulatory systems and agreed to continue to exchange views and cooperate closely, including in trans-Tasman ministerial councils, on improving the regulatory frameworks and reducing the cost to business of engaging in trans-Tasman commerce.

Useful discussions were also held on biosecurity and quarantine market access issues. Australian and New Zealand Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to sound science as the basis for all quarantine decisions. The meeting noted that since 2004 New Zealand had granted access to Australian bananas, honey, mangoes and papaya. Australia had granted access for New Zealand stonefruit to Western Australia and had progressed the draft import risk analysis for New Zealand apples exports. Ministers noted that the New Zealand apple IRA was likely to be completed by the end of 2006. New Zealand Ministers drew attention to the New Zealand Government's submission to the draft Import Risk Assessment and reiterated the importance that New Zealand attached to commercially meaningful access for New Zealand apples to Australia.

Ministers exchanged views on prospects for the WTO Doha Round. They agreed that urgent steps were needed to create the conditions for a resumption of the WTO negotiations. The immediate requirement was for the parallel development of improved positions on market access and domestic support. Ministers noted that further movement was needed to provide an assurance of real and commercially significant results in these pillars. Ministers discussed preparations for Australia’s year as chair of APEC in 2007 and New Zealand Ministers reaffirmed support for Australia’s efforts to produce a strong set of outcomes across the board.

Ministers also exchanged views on their respective FTA negotiations with third countries as well as negotiations being undertaken by Australia and New Zealand on an FTA with ASEAN. They re-affirmed their strong commitment to negotiating high quality, comprehensive agreements covering goods, services, investment and other trade-related areas and agreed to maintain close consultation and dialogue on these matters.

CER Business Dialogue members, representing the Australian and New Zealand food and beverage sectors, held a parallel dialogue during the meeting. These sectors makea significant contribution to the prosperity and export earnings of both countries. Dialogue members exchanged views withMinisters on future trans-Tasman collaboration and coordination to promote opportunities for further export growth, especially where this helps build scale and enhance competitiveness in third markets. New Zealand briefed the meeting on its recently released Food and Beverage Taskforce report.

CAIRNS

20 SEPTEMBER 2006