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Australia and New Zealand Set to Explore Strengthening Trade Relations

New Zealand Finance Minister Nicola Willis will meet Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers today to discuss further cooperation towards economic growth.

Ms. Willis, who is travelling to Canberra to meet with Mr. Chalmers, said the two countries had “an incredibly strong trade and investment relationship.”

“The Closer Economic Relations and Single Economic Market are powerful engines for growth on both sides of the Tasman,” she said.

“I will be sharing the new Government’s change in approach—we’re creating an environment where businesses can more easily invest, and where New Zealand can become a haven for talent, capital and innovation.”

Personal Rapport

The two first spoke shortly after the change of government in New Zealand last December, when Mr. Chalmers said he was “looking forward to a face-to-face meeting before long.”

When last in New Zealand, in June 2023, he called then-Finance Minister Grant Robertson “not just a counterpart, but a friend,” so Ms. Willis will be hoping to establish the same level of personal rapport.

He noted then that both countries had a “common commitment to the relationship … and the shared prosperity it’s built upon,” noting that “nothing demonstrates that better than the Closer Economic Relations agreement,” which he called “an absolute triumph of foreign policy foresight, more important today than the day it was struck.”

Different Approaches to Climate Change

Referring to climate change, Mr. Chalmers said “it’s critical we work together to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities to align our approach.”

Ms. Willis is part of a government that has already ended the clean car discount scheme and is in a coalition with the ACT Party, which went to the election pledging to repeal the Zero Carbon Act that requires the government to set an emissions reduction plan.

Both countries are now facing rapidly increasing cost‑of‑living pressures, high inflation, rising interest rates, and slowing economies, which both ministers will discuss.

While in Australia, Ms. Willis will also meet with Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten and New South Wales Treasurer Daniel Mookhey, as well as Australian investors and members of the business community.

“I am looking forward to discussing how we can achieve our bold economic goals, grow trade, and deepen investment. This trip will help build positive relationships with our largest trading partner and work together on issues that affect both our countries’ economies,” she said.

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