Economic relationship with Australia

This page has information about New Zealand's economic relationship with Australia, including Closer Economic Relations and the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement.

Removing trade barriers with Australia

Australia is one of our most important economic partners.

Good progress has been made to remove trade barriers with Australia. We're building on this to reduce differences in regulatory institutions and the regulation of business activities.

We collaborate with New Zealand and Australian agencies to create a seamless trans-Tasman market with one set of rules for businesses to comply with.

We also work to create a combined trans-Tasman approach to trade with the rest of the world.

Closer Economic Relations

Closer Economic Relations (CER) is New Zealand's oldest trade agreement which is still in force. It creates a common market with Australia through co-operation on policies, laws and regulatory regimes.

Following the success of CER, the New Zealand and Australian governments committed to the long-term goal of establishing a seamless trans-Tasman business environment — the single economic market.

More information about CER

Article 3 text which covers rules of origin under the existing CER Agreement [PDF, 73 KB]

CER product-specific rules [PDF, 868 KB]

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade(external link)

Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement

The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA) is a non-treaty arrangement between New Zealand and Australia’s Commonwealth, state and territory governments.

The TTMRA is a cornerstone of the single economic market and a powerful driver of regulatory co-ordination and integration. It is central to developing an integrated trans-Tasman economy and a seamless market place, as envisioned by the Australia and New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement.

The arrangement took effect on 1 May 1998 and is supported by overarching legislation:

The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997(external link)

This means all laws are subject to it unless specifically excluded or exempt.

Main principles of TTMRA

The main principles of the TTMRA are:

  • goods legally sold in one country can be sold in the other. This principle operates regardless of different standards, or other sale-related regulatory requirements between New Zealand and Australia
  • someone registered to practise an occupation in one country is entitled to register to practise an equivalent occupation in the other country, without further testing or examination.

What the TTMRA does

The TTMRA aims to provide:

  • lower business costs
  • more competitiveness resulting from manufacturing to 1 standard
  • greater consumer choice
  • greater co-operation between regulatory authorities
  • greater discipline on regulators contemplating the introduction of new standards, regulations and occupation registration requirements.

The TTMRA does not affect laws relating to:

  • customs controls and tariffs
  • intellectual property
  • international obligations
  • tax laws.

A user guide is available to help exporters and manufacturers, people in registered occupations, policy makers and regulators understand the arrangement and gain its full benefits.

Users' Guide to the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement [PDF, 517 KB]

Permanent exemptions

For some goods, mutual recognition is not appropriate and can be made permanently exempt from the operation of the TTMRA. In New Zealand, permanent exemptions include:

  • endangered species
  • firearms and other prohibited or offensive weapons
  • fireworks
  • indecent material
  • ozone protection
  • agricultural and veterinary chemicals
  • gaming machines
  • hazardous substances
  • therapeutic goods
  • radio communications equipment
  • vehicles
  • wildlife
  • some gas appliances.

The full list of permanent exemptions are listed in Schedule 2 of the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997(external link)

Temporary exemptions can be made to stop the sale of goods for up to 12 months for health, safety or environmental reasons.

Review of TTMRA

The operation of the TTMRA is regularly reviewed. The Australian Productivity Commission did the most recent review in 2015.

Read the review report on the Australian Government Productivity Commission website(external link)

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the New Zealand Government have established a Cross-Jurisdictional Review Forum (CJRF) to monitor the operation of the mutual recognition schemes and implement the findings of Productivity Commission reviews of the scheme.