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Quarantine issues were carved out of the original CER Agreement, which allows for reasonable, scientifically justified quarantine measures to be taken to protect human, animal or plant life or health.
In 1988 the Protocol on the Harmonisation of Quarantine Administrative Procedures was introduced, to improve the efficiency and speed of the flow of goods between the two countries by harmonising quarantine administrative procedures. Under the Protocol, New Zealand and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to the principle that quarantine requirements should not be deliberately used as a means of creating a technical barrier to trade where this is not scientifically justified.
The Protocol placed some rules or disciplines around harmonising technical measures with international standards where they exist, and promoted bilateral harmonisation of quarantine and inspection standards and procedures (notwithstanding the fact that the exception in the original agreement continues to apply). The Protocol also provided for the establishment of a bilateral consultative group to drive quarantine harmonisation, coordinate technical committees and help resolve technical differences relating to quarantine.
Under the 1988 Protocol, Australia and New Zealand agreed to work toward the speedy resolution of quarantine issues hindering the trans-Tasman trade in goods annexed to the Protocol.
In 1999 a high-level dialogue on biosecurity issues, known as the Consultative Group on Biosecurity Cooperation (CGBC), was also established for the purpose of strengthening trans-Tasman relations through increased dialogue on quarantine issues. Key areas of focus for the CGBC are to:
The CGBC meets annually (and can consider issues out of session), reporting to the Australian and New Zealand Ministers of Agriculture
Today, the overwhelming majority of trans-Tasman biosecurity/quarantine issues have been resolved, with few remaining outstanding