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Stronger Australia-New Zealand economic links, but no joint visa yet: joint document

WELLINGTON, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Economic links and alignment of regulations between New Zealand and Australia are set to strengthen but the two governments have put off a proposal for a single trans-Tasman visa for visitors to both countries, according to a joint document released Friday.

The two governments pledged to continue aligning procedures such as patent application and examination, but "few easy wins remained" in the bilateral economic linkages, New Zealand Finance Minister Bill English said in a statement on the joint document.

The joint document was a response to a report by their two nations' productivity commissions, published in 2012, which recommended a series of measures to build on the Closer Economic Relations agreement signed by the two countries in 1983.

Improving economic linkages requires a range of targeted actions, as well as looking at new and innovative areas for cooperation, said the statement from English.

"We have already made significant progress in a number of areas covered by the recommendations, including aligning trademark registration procedures and streamlining the process for resolving trans-Tasman civil proceedings, which is reducing costs and improving efficiency in enforcing judgments across the two countries," he said.

The ongoing work would boost productivity, increase competitiveness and deepen economic integration between Australia and New Zealand.

However, in response to a recommendation for a "trans-Tasman tourist visa" for citizens from elsewhere who wanted to travel to both countries, the joint document said this "would present a number of challenges, given significant visa systems and security differences."

Further work would be required to assess the visa waiver arrangements in both countries and whether the benefits of implementing a trans-Tasman visa would outweigh the costs.

However, the two prime ministers had agreed to allow international visitors attending the Cricket World Cup in 2015 to apply for a visa under Australian rules in order to enter both Australia and New Zealand.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his New Zealand counterpart John Key had committed to review progress on the report's recommendations at the next leaders' meeting in 2015.

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