The Government has today announced an upgrade to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, which will see New Zealand strengthen its ties with one of its largest trading partners.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern listens to a speech during the ASEAN-East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern listens to a speech during the ASEAN-East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Source: Associated Press)


The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) region is made up of 10 member countries, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The conclusion to the negotiations, launched in September 2020, was announced by leaders from ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand today at the opening of the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

“As the world feels the impact of global economic pressures, the importance of securing high-quality, modern free trade agreements is essential to the economic security of all New Zealanders,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“Since coming into office we have secured multiple new FTAs and have also seen our goods exports grow overall by 35%. Our focus remains on seeing those numbers continue to climb.”

Today’s upgrade to the AANZFTA, more than a decade after it was first established, will see improved conditions for investors and service providers, more streamlined customs procedures, and commitments to support the flow of essential goods in times of crisis.

It will also introduce stronger e-commerce rules which aim to increase consumer protection, support the wider use of e-invoicing, and remove unnecessary barriers to the cross-border transfer of business information.

In addition, a framework will also be introduced for cooperation on sustainable trade issues, including the environment, labour standards, and women’s economic empowerment.

The upgrade “further boosts our already significant economic and trading ties with ASEAN, cutting red tape and costs on businesses and providing greater economic security to New Zealanders”, Ardern said.

“We now trade more with ASEAN in a week than we did in a year in the early 1970s,” she said.

“Continuing to build on the momentum of our growing exports is a priority for the Government, and part of our economic plan to boost our recovery.”

In 2021 alone, New Zealand exported over $7 billion in goods and services to the 10 ASEAN countries, equating to almost 10% of our total exports.

It makes the ASEAN bloc New Zealand’s third largest trading partner with almost $20 billion of two-way trade.

The Minister of State for Trade and Economic Growth, Phil Twyford, says the deal will help to further deepen New Zealand’s trade ties to the ASEAN region.

“The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA has been instrumental in growing these trade links over the last decade,” he said.

“This upgrade will provide our businesses with even greater opportunity in this important market.”

The upgrade is expected to be signed and come into force in 2023.