13 December 2022
MFAT trade negotiators were at hand to explain and answer questions about the benefits New Zealand business can look forward to with the ASEAN trade deal boost. The substantive conclusion of negotiations to upgrade the existing ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) was announced last month.
The online session was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) in partnership with the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (SEA CAPE) and ASEAN New Zealand Business Council on 12 December. Leading the discussion was Chief Negotiator for the AANZFTA upgrade Keawe Woodmore, alongside Hayley Kim (Service Sector Lead) and Tiger Huang (Tech Sector Lead). Professor Siah Hwee Ang, Director of SEA CAPE facilitated questions from participants.
The result of two years of negotiation, including intense work in the last five months, Keawe summarised what the upgrade means into four key outcomes:
- Improving trade facilitation, including quicker customs procedures for all goods to be cleared within 48 hours and 6 hours for perishable goods.
- Breaking down barriers to trade, such as making it easier to claim tariff concessions for goods on transit to another country and cutting down red tape.
- Focusing on more resilient trade, by avoiding new customs procedures to make the flow of essential goods easier and efficient in times of humanitarian crisis and promoting the use of paperless trading and online tools.
- Introducing a new framework for cooperation on sustainable trade issues, such as environment, labour standards and women’s economic empowerment.
The commitment to service trade in the AANZFTA is further underlined by the inclusion of two additional annexes on the education and professional services sector. These aim to bring better recognition of qualifications and increased opportunities for Kiwi professionals to provide their services in ASEAN and are currently not covered by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
In the tech sector, business can benefit from the alignment of digital trade standards, such as e-invoicing in cross-border transactions that will reduce business costs and make transactions more accurate and secure.
The signing of the upgrade is expected to take place in 2023, after which it will take about 12-18 months to ratify it into a binding treaty.
Keawe pointed out that exporters who have questions can approach MFAT’s dedicated export hotline. The export helpdesk can be reached by emailing [email protected] or phone 0800 824 605.