Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations

2010 CER Ministerial Forum: Joint Statement

The Hon Simon Crean MP, Minister of Trade
Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade

Australian and New Zealand Ministers met in Canberra on 23 June 2010 for the annual CER Ministerial Forum. The meeting was hosted by the Australian Minister for Trade, the Hon Simon Crean MP, who was joined by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon Tony Burke MP and the Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law, the Hon Chris Bowen MP. The New Zealand delegation was led by the Minister of Trade, Hon Tim Groser, joined by his colleagues the Minister of Commerce, Hon Simon Power, and the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and for Biosecurity, Hon David Carter.

The trans-Tasman relationship is the closest and most comprehensive there is for both countries. Work to develop the relationship further was given added energy by the agenda set by the two Prime Ministers in their March and August 2009 meetings. This agenda reflects the resolve of both governments to take the relationship to a new level, including deeper economic integration. CER Ministers welcomed the progress achieved over the past year in strengthening the economic and trade relationship, taking Australia and New Zealand further along the path towards a single economic market. Ministers looked forward to the forthcoming meeting of Prime Ministers later this month in Wellington as a further opportunity to invigorate the existing agenda for deeper economic integration.

The importance of the economic relationship is reflected in trade and investment levels. Two-way trade between Australia and New Zealand was A$20.6 billion (NZ$25 billion) in 2009, including goods and services, only slightly lower than the previous year despite the economic downturn. The countries are close investment partners, with total accumulated investment between them standing at over A$90 billion (NZ$ 110 billion).

The stronger economic links parallel increasing people-to-people contact. Visits in each direction exceeded one million in 2009, and there are around half a million New Zealand citizens in Australia and about 65,000 Australians in New Zealand.

Reflecting the deepening integration of the two economies, Mr Groser will join the Ministerial Council on International Trade, which brings together the Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments for consultations on issues concerning trade and international competitiveness. Mr Groser will attend his first MCIT meeting in Sydney on 30 June. New Zealand’s participation in the MCIT will provide increased opportunities for close and effective consultation on important areas of mutual trade interest.

Ministers Bowen and Power signed a revised Memorandum of Understanding on Coordination of Business Law. Ministers also welcomed the substantial progress achieved across the aspirational SEM Outcomes Framework agenda referred to by Prime Ministers Rudd and Key on 20 August 2009. Ministers also expressed their support for examining whether the Trans-Tasman Outcomes Framework model could be applied to other areas of the Trans-Tasman relationship.

Ministers noted the CER’s status as a model free trade agreement. They made good progress toward completion of a high-quality Investment Protocol to the agreement in the near future.

Recognising the increasing inter-linkages between the two economies and continuing work to harmonise regulatory systems, Ministers affirmed the benefit of consultation between the two Governments in the development of policy in relevant areas. Ministers also agreed that officials should develop a formal Understanding and an accompanying set of measures to operationalise that Understanding to ensure that there is an adequate system for consultation between the two governments at the earliest opportunity in the process.

Ministers welcomed further work undertaken by the countries’ trade promotion agencies, the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), to foster closer collaboration on trade and investment promotion to global markets. This collaborative approach can work for the benefit of Australian and New Zealand businesses, as demonstrated in the success of the first joint Australia-New Zealand Investment Conference, held in Auckland in March 2010.

Ministers noted that the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture is a significant issue for both Australia and New Zealand. Ministers recognised the increasing research collaboration between the two countries in this area, and the Global Research Alliance for Agricultural Greenhouse Gases as a useful mechanism for global collaboration to address the significant challenge of reducing emissions and increasing food production in a carbon constrained world.

Ministers welcomed the reduced administrative burden on exporters that will be delivered by amendments to the CER Rules of Origin currently with the respective parliaments for consideration. The agreement to simplify the rules will bring the CER trade agreement into line with the countries’ more recent free trade agreements and make it easier for Australian and New Zealand firms to export products duty free across the Tasman.

Ministers noted the changes in the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA) stemming from a review by the Productivity Commission which are currently being implemented. These changes will reduce the administrative burden on governments, generating significant cost savings. The TTMRA facilitates the movement of goods and people across the Tasman through the mutual recognition of product standards and registered occupations and makes a major contribution towards a seamless trans-Tasman market-place. Ministers noted that early trans-Tasman engagement in policy development initiatives played a strong role in resolving any divergences in policy approach.

Ministers welcomed the continued work on mutual recognition of both countries’ food safety systems relating to inspection and certification requirements for most of the remaining risk foods under the TTMRA.

New Zealand Ministers expressed their appreciation for the assistance given by the Australian Treasury and Productivity Commission in the development of legislation to establish a New Zealand Productivity Commission. Ministers from both countries envisaged the two Productivity Commissions would work cooperatively in the future on issues of mutual interest.

Ministers welcomed the significant progress achieved on initiatives announced by Prime Ministers on 20 August 2009 aimed at further streamlining trans-Tasman travel, including expedited bio-security processes on arrival, transfer of x-ray images for bio-security risk assessment, expansion of Smartgate systems in Australia and New Zealand, a study focused on the potential integration of the two systems, and a study of streamlined passenger clearance options.

Ministers welcomed the significant progress in streamlining Trans-Tasman goods trade through mutual recognition and harmonisation of biosecurity operations using shared expertise to facilitate trade by removing barriers and improving efficiencies within systems. Ministers acknowledged the mutual recognition of the NZ-initiated Sea Container Hygiene Scheme, implementation of the mutual recognition framework for imported used vehicles from Japan and an extension of expedited exit arrangements (Direct Exit Path) for low biosecurity risk trans-Tasman air passengers.

Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the ground breaking joint Australia-New Zealand bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The SKA represents a key science, technology and innovation project which will drive the development of profound insights into a range of scientific and innovation-related issues of global significance. Ministers welcomed progress made to date, including the successful Very-Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) experiment involving the linking of six radio telescopes in Australia and New Zealand.

Ministers expressed their support for the investigation into trans-Tasman mobile roaming arrangements, addressing the features, quality of service, pricing transparency and prices of international mobile roaming services for consumers using their mobile phones when travelling between Australia and New Zealand. Ministers encouraged further work to ensure that mobile roaming offers are competitively priced, which has the potential to bring great benefits on a personal level for trans-Tasman travellers wanting to stay connected, and for companies doing business across the Tasman.

Ministers announced Australia and New Zealand’s commitment to conclude a non-legally binding instrument to formalise the existing relationship and enhance cooperation on combating illegal logging and promoting sustainable forest management in the region.

Reflecting on the contribution the Joint Food Standards Treaty makes to the relationship by maintaining a trans-Tasman market for food products, Ministers welcomed enhancements to the Treaty, scheduled to come into force from July 2010. The Treaty will be amended in line with the recommendations of a review conducted in 2009. The amendments will provide greater clarity in the operation of the treaty, and promote alignment and consistency of food standards developed and reviewed between Australia and New Zealand.

Ministers noted the progress being achieved in biosecurity cooperation. At a time during which both Australia and New Zealand are undergoing significant change (for example through amending their respective Quarantine/Biosecurity Acts) exchanging information is vital for ensuring the most effective, efficient and harmonised biosecurity regimes possible.

Noting the Panel Report from the WTO on the dispute over access for New Zealand apples to Australia, Ministers reiterated their respective positions. They also noted that the Report will remain confidential until published by the WTO, which is expected in late July.

Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to seeking a strong and ambitious conclusion to the WTO Doha Round. They reiterated the need for WTO Members to be ready to contribute to increased ambition across the board if the Round is to move forward, and expressed their determination to strive for a successful conclusion through the Geneva-based negotiating processes. Ministers considered that the Toronto G20 Summit (26-27 June) would present an opportunity for G20 Leaders to reaffirm their commitment to conclude the Round, ahead of a full review of the state of the negotiations at the Seoul Summit (11-12 November).

Emphasising the importance both countries place on their links with other parts of the Asia Pacific region, including economic and trade ties, Ministers welcomed the continuing negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. Ministers endorsed the commitment by TPP Parties to developing a high quality, comprehensive, 21st century free trade agreement that can serve as a platform for greater regional economic integration. Ministers also strongly supported progress towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA), in the East Asia Summit, as a very positive contribution to building the trade and economic architecture for the region.

Ministers noted the progress achieved in building links with Australia and New Zealand’s trading partners in the South-East Asia region through the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Area, which came into force on 1 January 2010. Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing cooperation in promotional activity to maximise the opportunities and benefits afforded by the Agreement for Australian and New Zealand exporters and investors. Ministers welcomed recent progress toward ratification of AANZFTA by the three ASEAN countries yet to do so, but noted there were still important issues to be resolved. Ministers agreed on the need for on-going coordination between Australia and New Zealand in the resolution of these issues.

Ministers welcomed the decisions adopted at the April 2010 Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers’ meeting on negotiations for an agreement to further regional trade and economic integration, known as PACER Plus. Ministers reaffirmed their conviction that the PACER Plus negotiations provide a long term opportunity to create jobs, enhance private sector growth, raise standards of living, and boost economic growth in Forum Island Countries.

Ministers also discussed the global economic outlook. There are some encouraging signs of a global economic recovery, although growth remains unbalanced across regions and current financial turbulence highlights ongoing risks to the outlook. Australian Ministers noted that Australia would seek strong outcomes from the Toronto G20 Summit, to boost confidence in the global recovery and strengthen global prospects for growth and jobs. Ministers welcomed the close engagement between officials of the two countries on G20 issues.

CANBERRA
23 June 2010
Australia

The Hon Tony Burke MP, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and
Corporate Law
New Zealand
The Hon Simon Power, Minister of Commerce
The Hon David Carter, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, and for Biosecurity