Thank you for your letter of 5 October, 19822 in which you set out your Government's views on the current proposals for a closer economic relationship between our two countries. Now that the consultation process has been completed on both sides of the Tasman we are in a position to consider whether changes to the proposals are required to complete the negotiations in a way that maintains the confidence of our business communities and other interested parties.
I would like to make it clear that it is the view of New Zealand Government that no changes can be made to the terminal date for import licensing (1995) or the date for the elimination of export incentives on trans-Tasman trade (1987). From your own extensive involvement in these negotiations you will be well aware of the difficulties the New Zealand Government faced in entertaining these two commitments. They were, however, agreed at ministerial level and, in the end, the New Zealand business community accepted this as a necessary step towards concluding negotiations. To propose any major changes now would require a fresh round of consultations with no likelihood of such changes being accepted.
Having said that, I note that the comments in your letter on access and export incentives are not confined to the question of terminal dates. I believe that on the basis of further discussions between qfficials it should be possible to explore other aspects of import licensing and export incentives with a view to ensuring that Australian concerns about meeting the objectives of fair competition and equality of trading opportunity are met.
I hope that within the limits described above, our officials might be able to put together a package which could be presented to our Cabinets by the end of the month.
[NAA: A1838, 370/1119/18, xxxiii]