FEDERAL minister for trade Don Farrell hosted his New Zealand counterpart on Friday to discuss the next stage of collaboration under the Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement.
NZ trade and export growth minister Damien O’Connor travelled to Adelaide for the annual CER Ministerial Meeting.
Australia and New Zealand signed the CER agreement in 1983, entering what the World Trade Organization has recognised as a model free trade agreement.
At the meeting in Adelaide, the trade ministers acknowledged the significance of 40 years of the CER agreement and its benefits for both sides of the Tasman, including greater trade and investment flows.
Mr O’Connor said the CER holds a special place for New Zealand as its most successful and enduring trade agreement.
“CER has delivered great benefit to Kiwis and currently represents 15% of our exports,” he said.
“The government has overseen a 12% increase in two-way trade with Australia from $26 billion in 2017 to $29 billion in 2022.”
Mr O’Connor noted his discussions with Mr Farrell followed a recent meeting between the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand in Wellington.
“These regular meetings are about ensuring that CER continues to earn its world class reputation and that it remains fit-for-purpose in an ever-changing world,” Mr O’Connor said.
He said the ministers were pleased to sign the Australia-New Zealand Sustainable and Inclusive Trade Declaration, which is expected to enhance the countries’ trade relationship under the CER.
“It amplifies the strong commitment, in this anniversary year, to working collaboratively to support rules-based international trade in pursuit of more modern, resilient and sustainable economies,” he said.
“Equally, it underlines the dedication our countries share to ensuring the international trading system and our bilateral economic arrangements are equipped to confront the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, and deliver prosperity for all our people.”
Mr O’Connor noted Australia and New Zealand were working together to support negotiations on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
Ministers emphasised the importance of tangible outcomes on IPEF to support a prosperous, resilient and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
And the ministers looked forward to signing the upgraded Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) in Indonesia later in the month.
Mr O’Connor said the upgrade would ensure AANZFTA remains fit-for-purpose, strengthening co-operation and economic architecture in the Indo-Pacific.