Australia-New Zealand co-operation

For more than 15 years, the New Zealand and Australian governments have worked together to align food safety requirements. This has resulted in agreements, structures and systems, including:

  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code)
  • Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement (TTMRA)
  • other co-operative activities, such as working together in the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC).

History and background

In 1983, a comprehensive trade agreement – the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relationship Free Trade Agreement (CER) – was signed by the New Zealand and Australian governments.

CER underpins a number of economic arrangements between Australia and New Zealand, including:

  • an agreement between the 2 countries concerning a joint food standards system (the Food Standards Treaty)
  • the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA).

The Food Standards Treaty

The Food Standards Treaty was signed in 1995. It committed both countries to the development and implementation of a single set of food standards. The Food Standards Treaty provides for an agency to undertake the development of food standards relevant to both countries. The underlying aims of the joint system consider the needs of both Australia and New Zealand to protect public health and reduce unnecessary barriers to trade.

There were 2 main outcomes from Food Standards Treaty:

  • the establishment of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), which has responsibility for developing, varying, and reviewing food standards for food available in Australia and New Zealand
  • the development of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code), which set requirements, particularly for the labelling and composition of food and food-related products.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand – Food Standards Australia website

The Code was adopted in New Zealand in 2001 and took full effect in 2002. At the same time, New Zealand introduced regulations to cover food safety requirements that fall outside the joint system.

TTMRA

The TTMRA, an arrangement between the New Zealand government and the commonwealth, state and territory governments of Australia, came into effect in 1998. In particular, it has implications for the sale of goods, including food. Where food standards that cover both countries have not been agreed, under the TTMRA, they are mutually recognised. The TTMRA is implemented in New Zealand through the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997.

Other co-operation between food safety agencies in Australia and New Zealand

New Zealand and Australia work together in international contexts where there are mutual benefits.

Codex

The CAC is a forum which coordinates international food standards. There is no legal arrangement regulating the way Australia and New Zealand work together in Codex. However, through FSANZ, there is close co-operation on a wide number of issues and both countries participate in an alliance known as the Quadrilteral group.

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