The Hon. Warren Truss, MP
The Hon. Warren Truss, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR TRADE

Joint Statement

31 July, 2007

The Hon Warren Truss MP, Minister for Trade (Australia)
The Hon Phil Goff MP, Minister for Trade, Minister for Trade Negotiations (New Zealand)

2007 CER Ministerial Forum

Joint Statement

Ministers from New Zealand and Australia met in Auckland on 30 and 31 July 2007 for the annual CER Ministerial Forum. The meeting was hosted by the New Zealand Minister of Trade, the Hon Phil Goff, with his colleagues the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon Jim Anderton, and the Minister for Economic Development, the Hon Trevor Mallard. The Australian delegation was led by the Minister for Trade, the Hon Warren Truss, who was joined by the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, the Hon Peter Dutton and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon Sussan Ley.

ANZCERTA (CER) is one of the world’s most open and successful free trade agreements (FTAs), and a benchmark for newer FTAs. While originally an agreement to provide free trade in goods and services, CER has grown to include deep and broad regulatory and administrative cooperation designed to reduce or remove impediments to doing business and movement of people across the Tasman.  In 2006/7 trans-Tasman trade amounted to NZ$15.7 billion in goods and over NZ$6 billion in services. New Zealand is Australia’s sixth largest market, taking almost five percent of its total exports, and is Australia’s tenth largest source of imports. Australia is New Zealand’s principal trading partner, taking almost twenty percent of its exports and providing twenty percent of its imports. Australia is New Zealand’s principal investment partner and New Zealand is the third largest destination for Australian investment abroad. The revised CER Rules of Origin, based on a change in tariff classification approach, which came into effect on 1 January, will further facilitate goods trade. Ministers noted that they would continue to take stock of the Rules to ensure that they appropriately support Trans-Tasman business in responding to an increasingly competitive global environment.  New Zealand Ministers remain particularly concerned to see the Rules of Origin for men’s and boys’ suits reviewed as soon as possible to bring them into line with approaches to rules in other sectors.

Ministers reflected that the quality and depth of regulatory cooperation between the two countries have also been a distinguishing feature. The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA) is the most advanced instrument of its kind and is supported by a formal Cross Jurisdiction Review Forum endorsed by heads of government. Under the arrangement a good that can be legally sold in New Zealand can be sold in Australia, and vice versa, and a person registered to practise an occupation in one jurisdiction is entitled to do so in the other. Ministers agreed that officials should continue to work on removing further TTMRA exemptions, including completion of work associated with removal of the high risk foods list as a Permanent Exemption.

Ministers re-affirmed their governments’ commitment to conclude a CER Investment Protocol and noted that a New Zealand response to Australia’s offer was pending. 

Ministers agreed that there were now few formal barriers to doing business across the Tasman.  CER has set an enabling platform for working towards a Single Economic Market. The focus is now on addressing behind the border issues to reduce unnecessary transaction costs in trans-Tasman business. Ministers welcomed developments under the Memorandum of Understanding on Business Law work programme, including efforts to simplify cross-border insolvency procedures, making trans-Tasman company registration easier, and making it easier to ban directors in one country when they have been banned in the other.

Ministers highlighted the establishment of a joint working group to examine trans-Tasman portability of retirement savings, and the fact that both countries were introducing legislation to support the sharing of information between our competition authorities.

Ministers welcomed agreement between the two Governments to negotiate a treaty to embody reforms proposed by the Trans-Tasman Working Group on Court Proceedings and Regulatory Enforcement, and the commitment to work towards speedy conclusion of the treaty. The reforms are aimed at improving the effectiveness of civil court proceedings and the enforcement of judgments across the Tasman, and each country’s regulatory rules. Once finalised, the treaty would represent an unprecedented level of cooperation between Australia and New Zealand in civil court proceedings.

Ministers re-affirmed both Governments’ shared vision of a world-class joint system for regulating therapeutic products. They regretted that it was not possible to proceed with negotiations towards the establishment of a joint body at this time but expressed their commitment to resume negotiations when the opportunity arose.

Ministers highlighted the work jointly underway on current and potential trans-Tasman vehicles for cooperation. The first phase had revealed the rich variety of such vehicles, while the next phase will develop the concepts outlined in the paper into a more practical reference guide when contemplating a new, or reviewing an existing interaction.

Ministers discussed the current challenges and opportunities for both countries’ trading interests stemming from emerging consumer concern about the environmental footprint of products they buy. Ministers considered there was value in keeping each other informed of strategies to respond to these concerns, both to address false perceptions about issues such as “food miles”, and also with a view to possible future collaboration in areas such as eco-verification and research. Ministers highlighted the continued importance in this context of the principle of comprehensive mutual recognition of standards.

Ministers welcomed the establishment of a joint working group to facilitate closer cooperation in the Fisheries management sector.  The working group will explore opportunities to maximise value by creating more cost efficient fishing operations, identify opportunities for regulatory harmonisation, cooperate to better align the delivery of fisheries services and examine opportunities in building capability.

Useful discussions were held on biosecurity and quarantine market access issues. Ministers re-affirmed their commitment to minimise negative trade impacts through timely resolution of outstanding issues using sound science as the basis for quarantine decisions. Ministers reviewed developments since their meeting in 2006 on New Zealand apples access to Australia, notably the publication by Australia of its Final Import Risk Analysis in November 2006 and Final Policy Determination in March 2007. Australian Ministers highlighted that the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) had put a considerable amount of time and effort into the development of the import arrangements for NZ apples. AQIS will now seek comment and advice from technical experts to determine whether the proposed operational arrangements fully meet the requirements set out in the import risk analysis. New Zealand Ministers underscored their deep concern at the lack of progress in concluding Standard Operating Procedures on apples access, noting that the delays in this process severely limited the prospects for bilateral resolution of the issue, with WTO action a live option. Ministers noted that while the overall trade relationship was excellent, apples remained an irritant within it.

New Zealand Ministers reviewed developments in the domestic legal proceedings in train on the Australian honey Import Health Standard, and the potential implications for other commodities of interest to Australia, including tropical fruits. Australian Ministers noted that trade had been impeded by the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act and sought confirmation that New Zealand would consider any outstanding trade issues following the outcome of the legal proceedings.

Ministers noted recent correspondence concerning New Zealand’s request for an exemption to the certification requirements for confirming the BSE-free status of New Zealand beef exported to Australia and noted this matter should be resolved as soon as possible.

Ministers observed that it would be timely to review the small number of remaining inscriptions on the CER Services Protocol. As a first step in this process they asked officials to begin a process of looking at the existing inscriptions and assessing whether there might be scope for liberalisation. Officials would report back to the next Ministerial meeting.

Ministers discussed issues of common interest in the WTO Doha Round, and emphasised the need for a successful conclusion to Doha Round negotiations by the end of the year, achieved through the multilateral process in Geneva.   They discussed Australia’s upcoming hosting of the APEC Leaders’ Meeting and New Zealand Ministers expressed their support for Australia’s efforts to produce a strong set of outcomes in that forum.

Ministers also exchanged views on their respective FTA negotiations with third countries, as well as their joint negotiation of an FTA with ASEAN. They re-affirmed their commitment to negotiating high quality, comprehensive agreements covering goods, services, investment and other trade-related areas and agreed to maintain close consultation and dialogue on these matters.

CER Business Dialogue members, representing New Zealand and Australian food and beverage sectors, held a parallel dialogue and then reported back to Ministers. This was the second year the Dialogue had focused on food and beverage, reflecting the significance of that sector to both countries’ economies. Dialogue members exchanged perspectives on shared challenges, in particular in relation to third country markets and to emerging consumer interest in the environmental footprint of imported products. Industry representatives drew to the attention of Ministers the need for trans-Tasman food regulation that promotes efficient manufacture and innovation and recommended further study of industry-related sustainability issues.

In concluding their discussions, Ministers looked forward to their next meeting in 2008, which would mark the 25th anniversary of CER. They agreed to work towards outcomes that would reaffirm and enhance the importance of CER to continuing and growing prosperity on both sides of the Tasman.

AUCKLAND

31 July 2007


The Hon Jim Anderton MP                                       The Hon Peter Dutton
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries                            Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer
and Forestry
Minister for Biosecurity                                            

The Hon Trevor Mallard                                          The Hon Sussan Ley
Minister for Economic Development                      Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for
                                                                              Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

 

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