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Old Friends, New Challenges: New Zealand and the United States in the Asia-Pacific Century

Our close historical and military ties led to the formation of the ANZUS alliance between New Zealand, Australia, and the United States in the early 1950s. When New Zealand declared itself nuclear free in the 1980s, our operational involvement in ANZUS ceased. Unfortunately our relationship then came to be defined by what we disagreed on—primarily, the nuclear policy—rather than by our strong commonality of purpose in most endeavours.

But the nature of our co-operation changed again after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. New Zealand was shocked that terrorists had struck at the heart of the United States, and saw it as an attack against all humanity.

By late 2001, we were deploying our elite special forces to Afghanistan against the Al Qaeda elements being sheltered by the Taliban. In 2003, we were the first country after the U.S. and the UK to lead a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan. For our size, we have contributed substantially there, and to the global campaign against terrorism.

Last week we announced a further twelve month extension of our Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, a small contribution of medical personnel in Kandahar, and a Royal New Zealand Navy frigate presence in the Gulf next year. We want to give a clear signal that we remain committed to supporting development and achieving greater stability in Afghanistan.

New Zealand has also drawn on its close relationship with Singapore to incorporate a Singapore Armed Forces contribution to our force in Afghanistan—a new development which we hope will help encourage others to join the international effort in support of Afghanistan.

We have also found strong common cause with the United States on the proliferation challenges facing the world today. We too are concerned about clandestine nuclear programmes. We have joined the Proliferation Security Initiative. We have implemented the United Nations Security Council Resolutions against North Korea and Iran.

The increased level of bilateral co-operation between New Zealand and the United States in recent years comes in the context of a broader effort by our two governments to strengthen the overall relationship. We have been talking more to each other rather than past each other, looking closely at where our interests coincide, and seeking to expand co-operation. This fresh approach to the relationship has seen some very positive dialogue and co-operation, in particular on Pacific issues, but also regarding regional security and the major global challenges of terrorism and non-proliferation.

On trade issues we work closely together in the Doha Round and in APEC. Like the United States, we want a high ambition outcome from the WTO Round. That means not only achieving far-reaching reform in agriculture, but also in non-agricultural goods and services. We also share with the U.S. a commitment to ensure that the WTO contributes to global sustainability—most obviously through the reduction and elimination of fisheries subsidies.

The New Zealand Government believes a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with the United States would be an excellent way to further develop our economic relationship. While we understand the current uncertainties about an extension to the Trade Promotion Authority, we look forward to a time when negotiations between us will be possible.

New Zealand and the United States are old friends. While the United States is an immensely powerful nation, New Zealand is a small country, possessing for the most part only soft power, but with a record of deploying to help troubled nations find a way forward. New Zealand and the United States, with our strong shared values, can work together to shape a better world, as we are. That, and our strong economic, scientific, education, and people to people ties, makes this relationship a very important one to New Zealand, which we seek to strengthen.

Thank you.