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Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement

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About ANZCERTA

Australia's bilateral trade and economic relationship with New Zealand is one of the broadest and most diverse in the world. The foundation of this relationship is the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA, or the CER Agreement).

The CER Agreement is one of the most comprehensive bilateral free trade agreements in existence. It covers substantially all trans-Tasman trade in goods, including agricultural products, and was the first to include free trade in services.

The Agreement's central provision is the creation of a World Trade Organization (WTO)-consistent Free Trade Area encompassing Australia and New Zealand.

Key interests and benefits

Among other things, ANZCERTA:

  • prohibits all tariffs and quantitative import or export restrictions on trade in goods originating in the Free Trade Area under ANZCERTA
  • minimises market distortions in trade in goods, including through domestic industry assistance and export subsidies and incentives
  • harmonises Trans-Tasman food standards through the Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) Agreement of 1995, which means lower compliance costs for industry, fewer regulatory barriers, and more consumer choice
  • provides for the mutual recognition of goods and occupations, removing technical barriers to trade and impediments to the movement of skilled personnel between jurisdictions, without the need for complete harmonisation of standards and professional qualifications
  • reduces investment costs, through the 2013 Protocol on Investment, under which investors in both countries benefit from lower compliance costs, higher screening thresholds and greater legal certainty when investing in their Trans-Tasman neighbour. Two-way investment between Australia and New Zealand is worth more than $194 billion (2019).
ANZCERTA signing

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mr Lionel Bowen, and the New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia, Sir Laurie Francis, sign the Australia - New Zealand Closer Economic Relations (CER) Trade Agreement in Canberra on 28th March 1983.

Seated, Sir Laurie Francis, left, and Mr Lionel Bowen sign the agreement, watched by officials.

Photograph by BARRY LE LIEVRE

ANZCERTA–its genesis and the present

The first trade agreement between Australia and New Zealand dates back to 1922, and it essentially stated that each party would trade with the other. This was followed by the Australia New Zealand Trade Agreement in 1933, under which the two countries gave each other preferences and some special rates of duty. A partial free trade treaty, the New Zealand Australia Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), entered into force in 1966, leading to the removal of tariffs and quantitative restrictions on 80 per cent of trans-Tasman trade by the late-1970s. Because NAFTA was not structured to address the changing international economic environment and lacked an effective mechanism for removing remaining restrictions, Australia and New Zealand agreed to develop a more open bilateral trading system.

The Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA) was signed on 28 March 1983 and has become the cornerstone of the trade and economic relationship. The WTO recognises it as being among the world's most comprehensive, effective and multilaterally compatible free trade agreements, covering substantially all trans-Tasman trade in goods, including agricultural products, and services.

The objectives of ANZCERTA are to:

  • strengthen the broader relationship between Australia and New Zealand;
  • develop closer economic relations through a mutually beneficial expansion of free trade between New Zealand and Australia;
  • eliminate barriers to trade between Australia and New Zealand in a gradual and progressive manner under an agreed timetable and with a minimum of disruption
  • develop trade between New Zealand and Australia under conditions of fair competition.

Since 1 July 1990, all goods meeting ANZCERTA Rules of Origin criteria can be traded across the Tasman free of duty and quantitative import restrictions.

The Trade in Services Protocol brought services into ANZCERTA from January 1989 allowing most services to be traded free of restriction across the Tasman with limited exclusions which were last reviewed 2014.

Since CER was signed, the composition of trade between Australia and New Zealand has changed dramatically, reflecting changes in technology, competitiveness, domestic industry structure, trade liberalisation and consumer demand.

ANZCERTA has underpinned a strong growth in trade across the Tasman. In 2019-20 total trade (goods and services) was valued at $A28.6 billion. New Zealand is currently Australia's ninth largest trading partner.

ANZCERTA forms the foundation of a broader economic and trade relationship with New Zealand. It is supplemented by more than 80 government-to-government bilateral treaties, protocols and other arrangements - covering trade and the movement of people, aviation, business law coordination, mutual recognition of goods and professions, taxation, health care, social security, food standards and government procurement.

With most of the trade goals met, Ministers agreed in 2009 that the Closer Economic Relations (CER) work program should focus on "third generation" trade facilitation issues, aimed at fostering closer economic integration through regulatory harmonisation and the creation of a more favourable climate for trans-Tasman business collaboration. This gave rise to the Single Economic Market (SEM) agenda, designed to enable business, consumers and investors to conduct operations across the Tasman in a seamless regulatory environment.

The SEM agenda aimed to build on ANZCERTA by identifying innovative, low-cost actions to reduce discrimination and costs arising from different, conflicting or duplicate regulations or institutions in either country. The agenda was endorsed at the 2016 Australia New Zealand Leaders Meeting (ANZLM).

The SEM agenda has brought significant economic benefits to both countries by lowering business costs and increasing the ease with which both businesses and people can operate across the Tasman. Some examples include:

  • the Australia New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement (ANZRICA, ratified in November 2017), which includes a wide array of cooperative initiatives across our science, research and innovation systems
  • the Trans-Tasman Electronic Invoicing Arrangement (signed October 2018), which creates and maintains a common Australia and New Zealand e‑invoicing approach in order to improve productivity and reduce the costs of doing business for both government and industry
  • mutual recognition between the Australian Trusted Trader program and the New Zealand Secure Exports Scheme (July 2016), to provide reciprocal trade facilitation benefits to member businesses.

2023 marks the 40th anniversary of CER and Australia and New Zealand are working together to mark the occasion and celebrate the successes of this unique trade agreement. Both governments are working to ensure that CER continues to adapt to the modern needs of business and individuals, reflecting the strength and vitality of the trans-Tasman relationship.

New Zealand is also a party to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA). To compare market access outcomes under these agreements, please visit the FTA Portal.

Documents

Here you can locate the full text of the Australia - New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement and many other associated official documents.

See the FTA Portal for tariff details on specific products under ANZCERTA

Guide to the CER

Closer Economic Relations–Background Guide to the Australia New Zealand Economic Relationship – February 1997

Trade in goods

Trade in services

Protocol on investment

The Regulatory Environment for Business

Government Assistance and Purchasing

Communiqués

More about New Zealand

New Zealand (ANZCERTA)

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