The Australian and New Zealand Productivity Commissions have delivered their final report on joint scoping work undertaken by the Commissions to identify ways of strengthening trans-Tasman economic relations. The joint scoping study was commissioned by Prime Ministers John Key and Julia Gillard at the start of the year.

The Report contains over 30 initiatives aimed at strengthening ties between the countries, particularly in relation to the 'four freedoms' - trade in goods and services, and the movement of capital and labour. Knowledge transfers and the integration or interaction of government functions are also considered.

Many of the most significant recommendations were contained in the Commissions' draft report, released in September 2012, and include:

  • waiving rules of origin for items with tariffs of 5 per cent or less;
  • reducing all remaining tariffs to 5 per cent or less;
  • removing the remaining restrictions on the single trans-Tasman aviation market;
  • removing the exemption for international shipping ratemaking from legislation governing restrictive trade practices (discussed further here);
  • considering removal of remaining restrictions on trans-Tasman foreign direct investment; and
  • further joining up Australia and New Zealand quarantine and biosecurity systems and processes.

New recommendations introduced in the final report include:

  • completing the review of exclusions from the Trade in Services Protocol (not reviewed since 2008) to determine whether retaining each exclusion would generate net benefits; and
  • considering taxation of non-resident employees when next reviewing the double tax agreements between Australia and New Zealand.

The Report will be considered by Prime Ministers Key and Gillard at the 2013 Leaders' meeting, which will be held in Queenstown in February next year and mark the 30th anniversary of the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement.

The Report can be accessed here.