Corrs Chambers Westgarth Partner and CEO John W.H. Denton has told Trans Tasman government and business leaders that Australia and New Zealand must embrace regional integration to enhance competitiveness.

Addressing the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum (ANZLF) in Sydney last week, Mr Denton urged leaders to agree to work together to improve regional financial connectivity with Asia.

“Business and government need to reassess policies and bilateral partnerships to better address integration and engagement with our most important trading partners,” he said.

“Improving financial market connectivity and competitiveness will provide greater economic efficiencies, more choice for consumers, lower borrowing costs for governments and corporations and deliver a more resilient financial market.”

Mr Denton identified key economic policy reforms necessary to facilitate integration and improve competitiveness, including long term tax and regulatory reform; changes to Australia’s foreign investment rules; building community support for increased levels of economic engagement with Asia, including foreign investment; and building the capabilities of our workplaces.

“By developing consistent regulatory standards that are meaningful for Asian markets, we can build opportunities and make the most of our trade and business relationships,” he said.

On the eve of the ANZLF, Mr Denton also joined a panel discussion at the Business Council of Australia (BCA) Annual Forum, sharing his thoughts on how to maximise investment and trade opportunities with Asia for Australia and New Zealand.

“From flexibility in negotiating free trade agreements to developing White Papers identifying factors of competitiveness in the Asian century, there are lessons Australia and New Zealand can learn from each other. There is also a lot of work we can do together, including continued cooperation in regional institutions such as APEC and identifying key barriers to investment and trade that we want Asian governments to address,” he said.

The discussion was part of a joint session with the Trans Tasman Business Circle designed to facilitate discussion between senior New Zealand and Australian business leaders on the relative benefits both countries can derive from reforms to tax, workplace relations, and planning and infrastructure as well as bilateral investment opportunities.

Mr Denton is a former diplomat and holds a significant number of leadership positions in global policy forums. He is a Prime Ministerial appointee to the APEC Business Advisory Council as well as the B20, the business arm of the G20. He is a board member of the BCA; Chair of the BCA Global Engagement Taskforce and Chairman of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees Australia.

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