I was pleased to receive your letter of 16 August(2) concerning closer economic association between Australia and New Zealand, following on from our recent talks on this matter in Lusaka.
I agree entirely with the approach to the question of closer economic cooperation you have outlined in your letter and which you have adopted in your public statements on this matter. We are agreed that NAFTA has been a valuable instrument in expanding the trans-Tasman trading relationship but we acknowledge that in a practical sense, the scope for further substantial trade growth within the framework of the agreement is limited. A more contemporary form of co-operation is now called for.
As you know, my colleague, Mr Garland will be visiting New Zealand shortly, at your Government's invitation. I welcome the opportunities presented by this visit and am sure that it will help foster increased appreciation of the issues involved.
I look with interest to the meeting of senior New Zealand and Australian officials later in the year and anticipate that they will be able to identify priority areas for consideration by our two Governments. Beyond that, I look forward to our further discussions early in the New Year.
[NAA: A1838, 37011/19/18, v]