Australia- New Zealand Closer Economic Relations (CER) Intensive discussions on CER have been held with New Zealand officials over the past three weeks
- Joint Working Party met in Wellington on 6-15 October
- Permanent Heads met in Canberra 19-20 October.
Considerable progress has been made in establishing a basis for agreement on a number of modifications/improvements in the draft package, consistent with the approach endorsed by Cabinet. These include
- certain aspects of the import licensing and export incentives issues
- special arrangement for whitegoods
- intermediate goods
- government purchasing
- specific product issues (copper and aluminium products).
However the key issues of terminal dates, initial access levels/growth formula and phasing of export incentives have been reserved for Ministers
- while acknowledging some room for movement, New Zealand officials have not given a detailed reaction to our access proposals.
- New Zealand can agree to phasing of export incentives
- but wishes to reserve any commitment on timing and degree pending the review of incentives announced in the 1982 Budget.
We are hopeful that we can allay New Zealand concerns on countervailing by an assurance that alternative solutions will be sought through consultation.
Exchanges are continuing on some other aspects of the package and it is our expectation that these can be agreed by officials.
New Zealand Permanent Heads have been left in no doubt that your forthcoming meeting with Mr Muldoon represents 'make or break' for CER
- and that, in your judgement, the proposals put to New Zealand on initial access/growth formula and the need for a significant front-end phasing of performance-based export incentives are the very minimum which the Government could accept as part of a final package.
As discussed with Mr Barker, we have informed New Zealand officials that you could be available for discussions with Mr Muldoon in Wellington on Thursday 28 October and for dinner at Vogel House that evening.
A letter to the Prime Minister requesting approval to travel to Wellington and for use of a RAAF Special Purpose Aircraft is attached for your signature.1
[NAA: Al313/113, 82/2593, viii]