SINGAPORE, Aug 26
(Reuters) – Australia and New Zealand are likely to sign free-trade
agreements with 10 Southeast Asian nations within weeks, in a deal
aimed at boosting trade between the Pacific countries and a market of
over half a billion people.
‘I understand it’s only a matter of protocol, a matter of
procedure. We’re working on one country which has some difficulty in
this protocol but we think that it’s within reach,’ the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations’ Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan told Reuters.
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of economy ministers of
ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific countries in Singapore, Surin declined to
identify the country.
Last month, Indonesia temporarily banned imports of halal-processed
beef from New Zealand, a move that raised fears about its possible
impact on the proposed trade deal between Australia, New Zealand and
‘Not end of this meeting, but within a few weeks, Australia and New Zealand and ASEAN will conclude,’ Surin said.