Congress Passes Hirono Bill to Strengthen Economic Ties Between United States and New Zealand

26 Jul 2018 9:57 AM | Conrado Langer (Administrator)

The U.S. House unanimously passed the Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors (KIWI) Act (S. 2245), a bipartisan bill authored by Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to extend trade and investor visas to New Zealand citizens to increase international business between the United States and New Zealand. The KIWI Act was passed by the Senate last month, and will now be sent to the President for his consideration.

“New Zealand visitors supported over 2,000 Hawaii jobs last year alone and continue to build on our strong cultural and economic ties to the Indo-Pacific region,” Senator Hirono said. “By extending trade and investment visas, the KIWI Act will help spur further job creation in Hawaii and across the United States, and reaffirm the importance of our close and longstanding relations with New Zealand.”

“We are delighted that Congress has passed the KIWI Act,” New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United States Tim Groser said. “Once signed into law by the President, the bill will make it easier for New Zealanders to grow and expand their businesses in the U.S., helping to strengthen our two economies and to deepen our bilateral relationship. We would like to thank all who supported the KIWI Act, and in particular to acknowledge the work of Senators Mazie Hirono and Mike Lee as well as Chairman Grassley in the Senate and Representatives Darrell Issa, Kevin Brady, and Rick Larsen as well as Chairman Goodlatte in the House for their collective effort to advance this important piece of legislation.”

“The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii welcomes the passage of the KIWI Act to extend E-1 and E-2 temporary visas to New Zealand to promote trade and investment in the United States,” Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President & CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara said. “Increasing access to E-1 and E-2 visas will increase the ability of New Zealand businesses to grow, trade with, and work and invest in the United States, which will have a reciprocal benefit to our nation and Hawaii’s economy.”

“Americans and New Zealanders collaborate closely in business, technology, research, security and entertainment, yet the lack of access to trader and investor visas has been a serious impediment to increased economic growth and greater bilateral cooperation,” said United States| New Zealand Council Chairman Edward Farrell. “The United States| New Zealand Council applauds the passage of the KIWI Act by Congress to resolve this issue. Extending E-1 and E-2 visas to New Zealanders would significantly increase bilateral business activity, encourage greater investment and economic growth in the United States, create more American jobs and related benefits, and strengthen US-NZ bilateral relationship.”

The passage of the KIWI ACT comes as the United States and New Zealand marked a milestone 75 years of diplomatic relations last year. The bill would allow New Zealand citizens to apply for trade (E-1) and investor (E-2) temporary entry visas.

New Zealand is one of our nation’s important strategic and economic partners. New Zealand is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance together with the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada and Australia and is the only member of the alliance whose citizens are not eligible to apply for E-1 and E-2 visas. Total foreign direct investment from New Zealand to the United States is valued at over half a billion dollars. However, New Zealand businesses have found that the lack of access to E-1 and E-2 visas has hampered their ability to increase trade and investment in the United States. By allowing New Zealanders to apply for these visas, the KIWI Act aims to expand business and investment opportunities between the two nations.

The KIWI Act is also cosponsored by Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). Representatives Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) sponsored the House companion legislation, H.R. 3324.