The NZUS Council will increase its engagement in the United States to support Foreign Minister, Rt Hon Winston Peters’ efforts to promote a free trade agreement with the United States.
“The Council is excited by the work Mr Peters is doing to build political support in the US for a free trade agreement and we will increase our efforts to support him,” NZ US Council chair Leon Grice said.
Mr Peters has said he will be travelling to Washington DC in the next few weeks and will continue to advocate for a free trade agreement with the United States and push the case for moving into more formal discussions.
“US Ambassador Scott Brown is also playing an important trade advocacy role from Wellington and in Washington DC and the Council appreciates his ability to get things done on the Hill. Ambassador Brown was a key part of getting the E1/E2 business visa legislation passed in Congress,” Leon Grice said.
NZUS Council Executive Director, Jordan Small said, “The Council is standing up its trade advocacy efforts. We are organising two Council delegations visits this year (2019) and a programme of work focused on lobbying, letter-writing, building support for an FTA, and promoting our members’ broader trade interests.”
NZ US Council Advisory Board Chair and co-founder, Fran O’Sullivan said securing a free trade agreement with the United States has been a Council objective from its establishment in 2001.
“We worked hard to get a bilateral FTA process underway and threw the council’s support behind US involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership when that regional agreement was launched in 2008. With the US out of TPP, it is now appropriate to refocus on a bilateral agreement.
“It will take a lot of hard work but we need to take every opportunity to push for greater US engagement,” Fran O’Sullivan said.
New Zealand and the US have a deep and longstanding friendship and share a long history of trade and investment, traditionally led by goods exports but increasingly focused on services and technology. Two-way trade in goods was valued at $11.65 billion in 2019 and services trade was valued at $6.71 billion.
Recent high profile and successful partnerships such as Rocket Lab demonstrate the huge potential for the relationship. An FTA between the US and New Zealand would underpin the strong trading relationship and support the growth in innovative partnerships and technology exchanges that drive economic returns and job creation for our respective countries and further advance much needed economic development in New Zealand’s provincial centres.