Sunday, April 14, 2024

ASEAN trade deal upgrade boost for exporters

New Zealand’s new free trade agreement upgrade with the Association of South East Asian Nations and Australia has been announced by Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

Ms Ardern said the importance of securing high-quality, modern free trade agreements was essential to the economic security of all New Zealanders.

“Since coming into office we have secured multiple new FTAs and have also seen our goods exports grow overall by 35%. Our focus remains on seeing those numbers continue to climb,” she said.

“The upgrade to AANZFTA further boosts our already significant economic and trading ties with ASEAN, cutting red tape and costs on businesses and providing greater economic security to New Zealanders.

“We now trade more with ASEAN in a week than we did in a year in the early 1970s.

“Continuing to build on the momentum of our growing exports is a priority for the Government, and part of our economic plan to boost our recovery,” the PM said.

In 2021 alone, New Zealand exported over NZ$7 billion of goods and services to the 10 ASEAN countries equating to almost 10% of our total exports, making the ASEAN bloc our third largest trading partner with almost $20 billion of two-way trade.

In a first for any ASEAN agreement, the upgrade also introduces a framework for cooperation on sustainable trade issues, including the environment, labour standards, and women’s economic empowerment.

Minister of State for Trade and Economic Growth, Phil Twyford, who earlier this week negotiated the final outcome with his counterparts, said the deal would help to further deepen New Zealand’s trade ties to the ASEAN region.

“The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA has been instrumental in growing these trade links over the last decade.  This upgrade will provide our businesses with even greater opportunity in this important market,” Mr Twyford said.

The benefits of the AANZFTA upgrade include improved conditions for investors and service providers, more streamlined customs procedures, and commitments to support the flow of essential goods in times of crisis. Recognising the huge increase in digital trade, the upgrade also introduces stronger e-commerce rules that aim to increase consumer protection and support the wider use of e-invoicing, and remove unnecessary barriers to the cross-border transfer of business information, the Government said in a statement.

The upgrade is expected to be signed and enter into force in 2023.

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