The trade ministers of New Zealand and Australia met virtually today to advance trans-Tasman cooperation under the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (CER).
Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O’Connor and Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan, discussed recent cooperation on supply chains and progress on a Secure Trade Lane that would maximise efficiencies in low-risk goods trade. Ministers also acknowledged the ongoing work in digital trade and e-commerce, science and innovation, circular economy, and Indigenous business collaboration.
CER is one of the most comprehensive trade agreements in the world and underpins the integration of the New Zealand and Australian economies.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, these open economic settings have benefitted exporters and businesses in both countries, contributing to the economic resilience of New Zealand and Australia.
Ministers reiterated the importance of the Single Economic Market agenda between Australia and New Zealand to support shared prosperity for our economies, our businesses, and our communities.
Reflecting the importance of free movement of people between Australia and New Zealand, both Ministers highlighted their desire to see further opportunities for travel between Australia and New Zealand as soon as health conditions allow.
They reiterated the commitment made by the New Zealand and Australian Prime Ministers’ to work together on re-opening to our Pacific neighbours when it is safe to do so and on systems that would enable a safe reopening to other parts of the world.
Ministers reinforced both countries’ commitment to the multilateral rules-based trading system which provides the predictability and stability necessary to ensure that trade can take place efficiently and with the least friction possible. As demonstrated by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits this system delivers for our countries are more important than ever. Ministers reiterated their concern over the use of coercive economic practices, and noted the threat these practices pose to the integrity of the multilateral rules-based trading system.
The Ministers resolved to work together to support a strong outcome at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) that promotes a free, fair, predictable, non-discriminatory, transparent, and open trade and investment environment. New Zealand and Australia will continue to work together, including in the Cairns Group, to advocate for agreement at MC12 on parameters to cap and reduce trade and production distorting agriculture domestic support by at least half by 2030 and to conclude fisheries subsidies negotiations as soon as possible before the Ministerial.
Australia and New Zealand are also working together to deliver a strong outcome on trade and health, including a temporary waiver of certain intellectual property protections on COVID-19 vaccines and other WTO trade and health initiatives in response to the pandemic.
Both nations support work to improve the WTO’s negotiating, monitoring and dispute settlement functions, and strongly support a binding, two tier operational multilateral dispute settlement system. The Ministers welcomed progress across the Joint Statement Initiatives launched in Buenos Aires with a view to updating the WTO rule book to be more inclusive and reflect contemporary issues in international trade. They looked forward to delivering new rules on services domestic regulation at MC12 and substantial progress in the e-commerce negotiations.
The Ministers welcomed the role Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is playing to uphold the essential role of trade in tackling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and enabling a strong economic recovery in the region.
Ministers reflected on the highly successful Informal Leaders’ Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in July, which demonstrated the value of APEC as a vehicle for responding to the health and economic crisis.
Both committed to working together and with APEC members to implement the commitments in the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade statement, agreed in June 2021, particularly to reduce costs related to vaccines and related goods. Ministers also highlighted the role APEC can play in strengthening Indigenous businesses’ access to global markets. Ministers welcomed the good progress being made by the membership, to agree an ambitious plan by the end of the year, for APEC’s contribution to making the region open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful by 2040.
The Trade Ministers highlighted the importance of regional trade agreements in providing economic architecture that supports an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
They said New Zealand and Australia were committed to working together to upgrade their shared free trade agreement with ASEAN – AANZFTA. The Ministers emphasised their determination to ensure that the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus delivers real and practical benefits to the Pacific and supports the recovery of the region from COVID-19.