Australia shouldn’t underestimate New Zealand
Australian interests might be focused north, rather than on their small neighbour to the south-east, but co-operation will benefit both countries, says Business New Zealand.
“Many Australian business interests might see New Zealand as just another small market, similar to another Australian state, rather than as a partner to do external third party business with," Business NZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly says.
"It is up to us to convey the benefits of facing outwards together.”
Last week's Australian New Zealand Leadership Forum saw business leaders from both countries meeting to discuss CER and opportunities in Asia.
Speaking ahead of the forum, Mr O’Reilly said the CER has much to achieve and that double taxation on dividend returns needs to be addressed urgently.
“This is a disincentive for companies to expand across the Tasman and a barrier to the free flow of capital so it is completely alien to the goals of CER and a single economic market.”
He says this double taxation is a fiscal boon particularly to the government of Australia, and efforts to persuade it to adopt mutual recognition have so far failed.
“It would be a great birthday present to CER if it were to agree to mutual recognition before its 30th anniversary.”
While a ministerial delegation led by acting Prime Minister Bill English attended the forum to “look at the impacts and benefits of further economic integration”, Mr O’Reilly was more direct in what New Zealand business hopes to achieve as a result of discussions around the CER.
“New Zealand and Australian companies could potentially profit greatly from working together in trading with Aisa.
"Arguably, the wealth to be gained from trading with expanding Asian economies may be more easily unlocked with joint endeavours.”
This suggestion, he says, may not necessarily resonate strongly with Australia, but that there was much to gain from a mutually beneficial relationship.
New Zealand’s competitive advantages over Australia, like the lower dollar and lower production costs could help gain Asian and Australian investment in New Zealand for joint endeavours.
“Another significant advantage New Zealand would bring to such endeavours is our free trade status with China.
"Closer integration with Australia could help Australian business piggyback on the benefits of that status,” he says.
The government is forging its own trade relationship with China, despite Australia’s plans.
Mr English met fourth-ranked Chinese leader, Jia Qinglin on Sunday.
The chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference is spending four days in New Zealand.
“The Government is committed to building the political, trade, education, tourism and cultural links with China that are important to New Zealand’s future prosperity,” Mr English said.