Australia and AFTA-CER
The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) – Closer Economic Relations (CER) Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) was established in 2002. It aims to deepen the level of economic integration between Australia and New Zealand and the countries of ASEAN through a work program focused on trade facilitation and capacity building.
During their Retreat in Singapore on 21 April 2004, ASEAN Economic Ministers reviewed the current AFTA-CER partnership, and agreed that it would be beneficial to both regions to upgrade their economic relations to the next level. To this end, they expressed support for consideration of a Free Trade Area between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand.
Meeting on 5 September 2004 in Jakarta for their annual consultations, trade and economic Ministers from ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand recommended to their Leaders that they support the negotiation of a free trade agreement (FTA).
Leaders from ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand met in Laos on 30 November 2004, and accepted the proposal. The 12 leaders announced plans to begin negotiations on an FTA in early 2005.