Action required to achieve vision of single trans-Tasman market

The Australian Industry Group has today put forward a set of proposals to reinvigorate the Australian New Zealand Free Trade agreement (CER) and end the gradual fragmentation of this important market.

“While political will remains strong for a close economic relationship between Australia and New Zealand, numerous decisions by regulators are undermining the effectiveness of the CER,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

“The decisions are often small but put together the result has been the creation of divergent regulatory schemes fuelled by disjointed standards. This is negatively impacting businesses and consumers, resulting in higher prices and/or reduced product options.

“If we are to maintain the cohesion of our two markets this regulatory divergence cannot be allowed to continue. After extensive consultation with industry in Australia and NZ, Ai Group has proposed a plan to reform the fundamentals of the trading relationship,” Mr Willox said.

We propose addressing the fragmentation issues by:

1. Forming an ANZ taskforce of political leaders, industry (Ai Group, BusinessNZ and local businesses from both sides of the Tasman), including representatives of standards bodies and regulators;

2. Identifying areas where the harmonisation of standards is needed;

3. Determining the mechanism to decide standards (eg international ISO or Aust/NZ);

4. If ASNZ is the standard, then determine how to incorporate Australian and New Zealand voices; and

5. Inviting NZ regulators to meetings of Australian regulators.

Ai Group Head of Industry and Policy, Louise McGrath, outlined these proposals at today’s Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum being held in Wellington.

“We need to see greater collaboration among regulators with regular meetings and increased stakeholder engagement,” Ms McGrath said.

“As we mark the 40th anniversary of this world leading agreement, we don’t believe that this market fragmentation is desired by our political leaders or regulators.

“We need both sides to stop and assess and work together to get the CER back on track,” Ms McGrath said.

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