134 Brief by Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Wellington, 2 December 1980

ANZCER: Joint Permanent Heads Meeting: Wellington 10-11 December, 1980: Overview Paper

The Report by Joint Working Parties, finalised in Canberra on 26 November, is the base document for this meeting. It provides background and analysis of the issues to be addressed by Permanent Heads.

  1. The process of study, discussion and consultation that has taken place since March has cleared most of the ground for taking decisions on the shape of a new economic relationship.
  2. In the majority of cases, the Joint Working Parties have been able to reach agreed conclusions and recommendations. Permanent Heads are asked to confirm these. On the others-inevitably the areas of greatest sensitivity-the Joint Working Parties have tried to specify as clearly as possible the differences in approach.
  3. As Permanent Heads work through the agenda it will be apparent that on some of these issues (which are summarised in the introduction to the joint report) there is probably not much between the two sides-for example, in the area of access the method of calculating the initial 'base' (para 2.28). Others are more substantive-the terms of reference for the 1982 review of export incentives (paras 5.12-5.16) and the treatment of dairy products, for example.
  4. New Zealand may have a rather more modest view of what this meeting can achieve in relation to the Prime Ministers' meeting proposed for the last week of February. Australia appears to see the Prime Ministers' meeting primarily as putting a formal stamp of approval on the framework agreed by Permanent Heads. At the last round of talks in Canberra the New Zealand delegation expressed the view that there were likely to be some outstanding areas requiring political decisions. Australia acknowledged this possibility but suggested a meeting between Deputy Prime Ministers (Talboys/Anthony) might be a more appropriate forum for settling any issues that remained following the Permanent Heads meeting.
  5. This is a matter which can probably be resolved only in the light of next week's discussions between Permanent Heads. Certainly New Zealand will need to seek Ministers' views.
  6. Either way, it would seem desirable if Permanent Heads could reduce substantially the number of outstanding issues. Where this is not possible, the meeting could distill further the areas where political judgments will still be required. This task will, no doubt, now be somewhat easier to achieve in the light of the large measure of agreement reached by the Joint MANFED/CAI Working Party Report (copy attached)-assuming that report is approved by their respective governing bodies.
  7. The formal outcome of this meeting is expected to be an agreed joint report to Prime Ministers. Again, it is difficult to prejudge its exact form but one approach would be:
    1. A covering paper recalling the terms of reference for the study in the March communique and annex1 and setting out the conclusions of Permanent Heads.2
    2. An attached draft Heads of Agreement describing the main procedures and policies required to bring about the closer economic relationship envisaged by the two Prime Ministers.
  8. A framework has been prepared along these lines to serve as a focus for discussion and is included in the brief. Permanent Heads will also need to discuss whether this report, or an amended version of it, should be made public, once Ministers have had the opportunity to consider it.
  9. Certain linkages in the emerging package are becoming apparent and this meeting should provide an opportunity to clarify these. From Australia's point of view, the key issues remain access and export incentives. If, for example, New Zealand can confirm the parameters of its access offer and reach an acceptable formulation on the purpose of the review of export incentives, it is possible this could unlock the present Australian position in areas which are central to New Zealand's concerns: for example, on dairy products and on intermediate goods.
  10. Apart therefore from the formal task of preparing a report to Prime Ministers and a draft Heads of Agreement, this meeting will be useful in gaining a perception of the overall shape of the CER package and the likely balance of advantage for New Zealand.

[ABHS 950/Boxes1221-1226, 40/4/1 Part 32 Archives New Zealandffe Whare Tohu Tuhituhinga 0 Aotearoa, Head Office, Wellington]