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New Zealand has passed legislation allowing for greater cooperation between the Commerce Commission and its international counterparts, a move praised as an important step towards creating a Single Economic Market with Australia.
The Commerce Commission (International Co-operation, and Fees) Bill will enable the Commerce Commission to provide investigative assistance to similar overseas regulators, such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). According to Commerce Minister Craig Foss, the legislation "supports the Commerce Commission in enforcing competition, consumer and telecommunication laws in the context of global business today." Foss added that the Bill also promotes open, fair and effective markets, and stressed that this will benefit both New Zealand businesses and consumers.
The legislation is the latest in a number of initiatives in both New Zealand and Australia to make a Trans-Tasman single market a reality. The Australian government recently introduced legislation to establish a trans-Tasman retirement savings portability scheme. The scheme has been described by the Australian Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten, as supporting progress toward the goal of a single economic market by removing a barrier to labour mobility between the two countries. Efforts are also being made towards the creation of a single trans-Tasman patents examination regime.
Last year, as part of the trans-Tasman economic integration process, the Australian Accounting Standards Board and the New Zealand Financial Reporting Standards Board issued Australian Accounting Standards and New Zealand equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards (NZ IFRS) which complete the convergence work on accounting standards for publicly accountable for-profit Australian and New Zealand entities.
In 2010, then New Zealand suggested that it was too early to consider deeper integration of the two economies by means of a common market with a single currency, a common monetary policy, and harmonized tax regimes. Such an outcome has not been entirely ruled out, however.
After a meeting to discuss progress towards a Single Economic Market in April this year, New Zealand Minister of Commerce, Craig Foss and Australian Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Bernie Ripoll said that there had been good progress on the short-term targets, and attention is now shifting to more "complex goals".
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