Closer Economic Relations (CER) is a free trade agreement between the governments of New Zealand and Australia. It is also known as the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA) and sometimes shortened to (CERTA). It came into force on 1 January 1983, but the actual treaty was not signed until 28 March 1983 by the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Minister for Trade, Lionel Bowen and the New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia, Laurie Francis in Canberra, Australia.
CER built on the earlier New Zealand Australia Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was signed on 31 August 1965 and came into force on 1 January 1966. NAFTA had removed four-fifths of the tariffs between the two countries and quantitative restrictions on trade across the Tasman Sea. However, it came to be seen as too complex and bureaucratic, and in March 1980, a joint Prime Ministerial communiqué was released that called for "closer economic relations".
The two major sticking points in the negotiations were New Zealand's wish for better access for its dairy products in Australia and Australia's wish for New Zealand to remove export incentives and quantitative restrictions. After the two hurdles were overcome, the Heads of Agreement was signed on 14 December 1982 and came into force on 1 January of the following year.
One of the most important results of CER was the Protocol on the Acceleration of Free Trade in Goods, which resulted into the total elimination of tariffs or quantitative restrictions between the two countries by 1 July 1990, five years ahead of schedule.
Other parts of CER include:
- A good that can be legally sold in one country can also be legally sold in the other. Anyone registered to practise an occupation in one country may practise in the other (with some exemptions including medical practitioners)
- Service providers may provide services in either country (except in certain areas such as airway services)
The CER is complementary to the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement.
Read more about Closer Economic Relations: Future Prospects
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