Improved ASEAN trade deal for exporters

The upgrade to the new Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Australia was announced today by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“As the world feels the impact of global economic pressures, the importance of securing modern, high-quality free trade agreements is critical to the economic security of all New Zealanders,” said Jacinda Ardern.

“Since taking office, we have concluded several new free trade agreements and have also seen our merchandise exports increase overall by 35%. Our goal remains to see these numbers continue to climb.

“Upgrading to AANZFTA further strengthens our already strong economic and trade ties with ASEAN, reducing red tape and costs for businesses and providing greater economic security for New Zealanders.

“We now trade more with ASEAN in a week than we did in a year in the early 1970s.

“Continuing to build on the momentum of our growing exports is a priority for the government and part of our economic plan to drive our recovery,” said Jacinda Ardern.

In 2021 alone, New Zealand exported more than NZ$7 billion worth of goods and services to the 10 ASEAN countries, equivalent to nearly 10% of our total exports, making ASEAN bloc our third largest trading partner with close to $20 billion in bilateral trade.

In a first for any ASEAN agreement, the upgrade also introduces a framework for cooperation on sustainable trade issues, including the environment, labor standards and women’s economic empowerment.

Minister of State for Trade and Economic Growth Phil Twyford, who earlier this week negotiated the final outcome with his counterparts, said the deal would help further deepen New Zealand’s trade ties with the ASEAN region.

“The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA has been instrumental in developing these trade ties over the past decade. This upgrade will provide our businesses with even greater opportunities in this important market,” said Phil Twyford.

Benefits of the AANZFTA upgrade include better terms for investors and service providers, more streamlined customs procedures, and commitments to support the movement of essential goods in times of crisis. Recognizing the huge increase in digital commerce, the upgrade also introduces tougher e-commerce rules that aim to increase consumer protection and support wider use of e-invoicing, and remove unnecessary barriers cross-border transfer of commercial information.

The upgrade is expected to be signed and take effect in 2023.

Notes to Editor:

The joint statement agreed by the leaders is also attached.

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