Tuesday, July 16, 2024

NZ/Australian trade ministers advance cooperation agreement

New Zealand and Australian trade ministers have discussed a range of matters relating to the bilateral relationship between the nations as part of talks to advance trans-Tasman cooperation under the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (CER).

New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O’Connor joined with Minister for Tourism, Stuart Nash to host Australian Minister for Trade and Tourism, Senator Don Farrell in Queenstown at the weekend.

In a statement, the ministers said: “The bilateral relationship between New Zealand and Australia is uniquely close – an indispensable partnership. Ministers acknowledged the extraordinary integration and depth of our economic relationship, underpinned by strong people to people connections.”

Ministers noted the fundamental importance of this economic integration to both country’s economic growth and shared prosperity. They also acknowledged a shared commitment to addressing cost of living pressures and supply chain constraints, which are present in the global economy. 

CER is one of the most comprehensive trade agreements in the world – designed to maximise opportunities on both sides of the Tasman.

Ministers agreed the 40th anniversary of CER in 2023 is an opportunity to ensure the comprehensive bilateral trading architecture is dynamic and future-focused, and that businesses and people on both sides of the Tasman can continue to respond to global challenges and capitalise on new opportunities.

Ministers discussed areas with great potential for cooperation in the anniversary year and for ongoing collaboration going forward, including Indigenous cultural and economic connections; clean energy and climate change policy; and research, innovation and emerging technologies.

“Australia and New Zealand will consider how we can champion sustainable and inclusive trade,” they said.

Ministers also discussed their shared interest in tourism, including the nature of the challenges to the recovery of the tourism sector and making the industry more sustainable. They noted the joint hosting of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the opportunity the event provides to showcase New Zealand and Australian tourism offering to a global audience.

“Ministers reinforced their commitment to continued collaboration under the Australia Aotearoa-New Zealand Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement (ICA), which provides a strong basis for deepening engagement to embed Indigenous perspectives and interests.”

“Australia and New Zealand will continue to work together to ensure our trade, economic and investment initiatives contribute to Indigenous community and economic development and support Indigenous businesses and exporters,” the ministers said.

They also reinforced both countries’ commitment to the multilateral rules-based trading system, with the WTO (World Trade Organization) at its core, which provides the predictability and stability necessary to support global trade.

It was noted that, as demonstrated by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits this system delivers for both countries were more important than ever.

“Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the positive outcomes achieved at the 12th WTO Ministerial meeting earlier this year, including to work towards achieving a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement system accessible to all members by 2024.”

They also agreed on the need to work together to achieve further positive results, including with respect to strengthened disciplines on unsustainable fish subsidies, environmentally harmful agriculture subsidies and expeditious conclusion of the Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce.  

“Ministers reiterated their concern over the use of coercive economic practices, which undermine the multilateral rules-based trading system, and agreed to work together and with all interested partners to respond to such practices.”

With APEC Economic Leaders’ Week taking place in Bangkok in November, Ministers agreed on the importance of supporting Thailand as Chair to achieve successful outcomes. They welcomed the US hosting in 2023, noting this presented further opportunities to enhance economic cooperation in the region.

A commitment to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework was also reaffirmed. The Ministers said they looked forward to Australia’s hosting the first negotiating round in December. Australia and New Zealand undertook to develop impactful solutions to common sustainability challenges, and to ensure trade and investment delivers for everyone, particularly indigenous peoples and other under-represented groups.

“Ministers looked forward to working together during New Zealand’s year as CPTPP Chair in 2023, and with other CPTPP members, to strengthen implementation of the Agreement, and oversee expansion on a consensus basis and in accordance with accession guidelines,” they said.

“Acceding economies must be committed to the Agreement’s objectives, able to fully meet and adhere to its high standards and have a demonstrated pattern of complying with their trade commitments. New Zealand and Australia share a common commitment to CPTPP as a central pillar of rules-based trade and a driver of further economic integration in our region.”

They trio also reiterated Australia and New Zealand’s determination to work with PACER Plus partners to boost international trade and investment and deepen economic integration across the Pacific, and warmly welcomed Vanuatu as the newest PACER Plus partner.

“Expanding membership increases PACER Plus’s effectiveness and provides benefits for all members,” the Ministers said.

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