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  • 18 Mar 2013 2:56 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    From USTR

    At the close of the 16th Round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations today, chief negotiators reported that they had achieved the goal set for the round: to put the negotiations on an accelerated track toward conclusion of a next-generation, comprehensive agreement in the 2013 time frame envisioned by President Obama and the Leaders of the ten other TPP countries.

    Through the TPP, the United States is seeking to help establish a trade and investment framework that supports U.S. job creation by addressing the issues faced by U.S. stakeholders in the 21st-century, promoting U.S. competitiveness, and expanding U.S. trade in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. The United States also is seeking to advance core U.S. values in the agreement, such as transparency, labor rights, and environmental protection.

    U.S. Chief Negotiator and Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Barbara Weisel reports that building on the consensus the TPP countries have already achieved on a significant number of the issues under negotiation, during this round the 11 delegations intensified their drive to find mutually-acceptable paths forward on the remaining issues in the legal texts of the agreement. As a result of active intersessional engagement, and the pragmatism and flexibility shown by all countries during this round, the delegations succeeded in finding solutions to many issues in a wide range of areas such as customs, telecommunications, investment, services, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, intellectual property, regulatory coherence, development, and other issues. With this progress, some negotiating groups, including customs, telecommunications, regulatory coherence, and development will not meet again to discuss the legal texts in future rounds and any remaining work in these areas will be taken up in late-stage rounds as the agreement is finalized. This will allow the TPP countries to concentrate their efforts on resolving the most challenging issues that remain, including related to intellectual property, competition, and environment.

    The 11 countries also made progress during this round in continuing to develop the comprehensive packages that will provide market access for goods, services and investment, and government procurement. Productive exchanges occurred on tariff packages on industrial goods, agriculture, and textiles, as well as on rules of origin and how best to promote the development of regional supply chains in order to benefit companies based in the United States and the other TPP countries. In addition, negotiators discussed each country’s proposals to open services and investment and government procurement markets. The 11 countries agreed on additional intersessional work to build on market access advances made since the last round, to continue movement toward outcomes consistent with the high level of ambition that Leaders agreed to seek.

    On March 6, the TPP negotiations adjourned temporarily so that negotiators could engage with the more than 300 stakeholders from TPP countries who registered to join the stakeholder events in Singapore. In response to stakeholder requests, Singapore arranged both for direct stakeholder engagement with negotiators and for 60 stakeholders to make presentations on a wide variety of issues. Also that day, Weisel and fellow Chief Negotiators briefed stakeholders and took questions on the substance and process of the TPP talks.

    In mid-April, TPP Trade Ministers will meet on the margins of the APEC Trade Ministers meeting in Surabaya, Indonesia to discuss progress to date and provide further guidance to negotiators. As the negotiations draw to a close, high-level officials will be more actively engaged with one another on ways to address the remaining sensitive issues.

    The 17th round of TPP negotiations will be held in Lima, Peru, from May 15-24.

  • 05 Feb 2013 10:21 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    New Zealand’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade John Allen hosted the United States Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, for the United States-New Zealand Strategic Dialogue on Saturday 15th December in Wellington. The Strategic Dialogue was the second held in 2012, following one hosted by Assistant Secretary Campbell in Sperryville, Virginia on 19 March.

    The Dialogue was an opportunity to further the enhanced strategic political and defence  relationship between New Zealand and the United States since the signing of the Wellington Declaration in November 2010 by Foreign Minister McCully and Secretary of State Clinton and the Washington Declaration in June 2012 by Defence Minister Coleman and Secretary of Defense Panetta.

    The issues discussed by New Zealand and the United States during the Dialogue included:

    •The United States’ strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region;

    •The strategic and economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific, including Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the East Asia Summit, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership;

    •The state of New Zealand-United States  defence cooperation;

    •Cooperation in the Pacific Islands region in areas such as development, democracy and rule of law, including defence cooperation in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief;

    •Strengthening regional cooperation in the Pacific Islands region through our joint efforts as we look ahead to next year’s Pacific Islands Forum in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

    Joint decisions made during the Dialogue included:

    •Regularizing contact between New Zealand and the United States at all levels, including regular dialogues on issues such as cooperation with Pacific Island states, development efforts in the region, and the dynamic changes taking place in East Asia. 

    •Working together to secure approval of the Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area proposal submitted by our two countries to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR);

    •Working to ensure the successful conclusion in the near future of negotiations on the Multilateral Treaty on Fisheries between the Pacific Islands and the United States.

    •Continued close bilateral cooperation, including with our nine other partners, to reach expeditious conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation, to increase trade and economic opportunity for both our countries.

    The two sides looked forward to holding the next Strategic Dialogue in Washington in the first half of 2013.

  • 13 Dec 2012 1:28 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    The 11 economies negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) are all doing so because they see benefits in a regional free trade agreement.

    Collectively the 11 TPP economies represent about US$21 trillion in GDP.  If these economies come together in the kind of relationship envisaged under TPP, New Zealand needs to be part of it. The Asia Pacific region is our home, and our economic future depends on strong trading relationships with Asia-Pacific countries.  By negotiating free trade agreements, New Zealand ensures a level playing field for our exporters.  If we are not involved in free trade agreements involving key trading partners, our exporters get left behind, and experience real economic disadvantages operating in offshore markets.

    At the moment, New Zealand has eight trade agreements in force. Nearly 50 percent of New Zealand exports are now covered by FTAs; from our earliest with Australia through to the most recent FTA with Hong Kong.

    TPP includes four of New Zealand’s top 10 trading partners (1st – Australia, 3rd – US, 6th – Singapore, and 9th – Malaysia).  Collectively, the TPP economies take around 38 percent of all exports by value from New Zealand (and we source 37.8 percent of our imports from them).

    A recently released study estimates that gains for New Zealand from a free trade agreement with the current 11 TPP economies could be as high as 1.4 percent of our gross domestic product, or US$2.9 billion.

    Beyond the economic modelling, we know that free trade agreements help New Zealand exporters, because they have told us so. In 2009, MFAT and NZTE surveyed 854 New Zealand exporters to assess the impact of FTAs on their companies. More than 75 percent of respondents saw increases in profitability from the removal of trade barriers.

    Specific benefits for New Zealand businesses from TPP are likely to include:

     •Tariff elimination and reduced compliance costs for goods exporters;

    • More opportunities to access government procurement contracts;
    • Reduced barriers to services trade and investment.

    Peter Petri, Michael Plummer and Fan Zhai, Asia-Pacific Trade,

  • 12 Dec 2012 9:27 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)
    New Zealand and the United States enjoy a strong economic relationship, and a key component of this is New Zealand corporate and individual investment in the United States.   In 2011, total stock of New Zealand Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the United States was US$5.95 billion.  Top sectors for New Zealand’s U.S. investments include manufacturing as well as the wholesale trade industry.  Keeping that relationship active, relevant and growing requires initiative and up-to-date information.  President Obama recognizes this, and so has created the “SelectUSA” program, which aims to make it easier for New Zealanders to invest in the United States.  

    The “SelectUSA” program highlights the extraordinary investment opportunities in the United States, and it encourages international businesses to locate, invest, and grow in the United States.  In particular, the U.S. has unparalleled educational institutions, labor productivity, and intellectual property protection.  This last point is important for a country like New Zealand – which is a content-generating country.  America looks to protect innovation through appropriate Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement and awareness because it creates jobs and exports, and promotes innovation and safe products.  Because of these and other unique qualities, the United States ranks in the top tier of global business climate surveys, including the Venture Capital and Private Equity Index, the FDI Confidence Index, the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, and the Center for Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Indicator. 

    In cooperation with the SelectUSA office, our Embassy in Wellington and Consulate-General in Auckland are committed to helping you invest in the United States.  Specifically, our offices can: (1) provide detailed information on the U.S. investment climate and profiles of different U.S. industries; (2) connect you to Economic Development Officers on the ground in each U.S. state and county to provide insights on location-specific investment opportunities and incentive programs; (3) offer guidance on U.S. policies and regulations in setting up and operating businesses; and (4) deliver ombudsman services to resolve issues in setting up a business. 

    I encourage you to visit the SelectUSA website ( for more information, and direct your specific inquiries to our Commercial Service office in Wellington (telephone (04) 462-6002 or email  We are looking forward to working with you even more intensively in the year ahead.

    David Huebner, U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand

  • 26 Oct 2012 12:50 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    New Zealand will look to negotiate a FATCA tax information agreement with the United States, Revenue Minister Peter Dunne announced today.

    The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was enacted by the United States in 2010, and requires overseas financial institutions – for instance, New Zealand banks, life insurers or managed funds – to enter into agreements with the US's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and US Treasury to provide details about the affairs of their United States clients.

    "New Zealand fully supports moves to clamp down on tax evasion through effective exchange of information between jurisdictions, but we want to ensure that the information goes through existing channels," Mr Dunne said in confirming that Cabinet this week agreed to lodge an expression of interest in negotiating a FATCA tax information agreement.

    "Without an intergovernmental agreement, financial institutions would have to enter into separate agreements with the IRS, withhold tax on certain accounts, and risk being in conflict with New Zealand's privacy and human rights laws," he said.

    These separate agreements are optional, but not having one means the US imposes a 30% withholding tax on an institution's American income. Mr Dunne said having an intergovernmental agreement would materially reduce FATCA compliance, as well as providing other advantages.

    He said that the intergovernmental agreement would help address a number of concerns because financial institutions will not have to provide information directly to the American IRS.

    "Rather, they would provide it to Inland Revenue which will submit the data on their behalf to the IRS.

    "This agreement will mean we can help to support FATCA's objectives and play our part in dealing with international tax evasion, while at the same time ensuring that the compliance costs for New Zealand institutions are manageable," he said.

    A joint working group comprising private sector representatives and officials is being formed to work through FATCA issues. Organisations that may be affected by FATCA can participate in the working group, by emailing

  • 03 Oct 2012 7:56 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)
    Progress being made in NZ-US relationship one step at a time, says America's visiting Defence Secretary

    Read the full article
  • 03 Oct 2012 7:53 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)
    United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited New Zealand in late September. He was the first US Defense Secretary to visit in over 30 years.

    The trip follows the signing of the Washington Declaration in June between Secretary Panetta and Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman. The declaration provides a framework for cooperation to focus, strengthen and expand the bilateral defence relationship.

    While in New Zealand, Secretary Panetta laid a wreath at the Auckland World War II Hall of Memories to remember the sacrifices of the New Zealand Defence Force in that war and, most recently, in Afghanistan.
  • 17 Aug 2012 4:39 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    During Weeklong Trade Mission, Finance Chairman Will Meet with Prime Ministers, Trade and Economic Leaders, Discuss Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Washington, DC – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will depart for New Zealand and Japan tomorrow to meet with senior economic and trade leaders and discuss key issues surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement (FTA), which will create American jobs and benefits U.S. businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers. Senator Baucus’s meetings will take place in Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand and Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan.

    “The Asia Pacific region will drive the next wave of economic growth, so we have to strengthen our trade ties with countries like Japan and New Zealand to stay competitive. Every bit of ground we gain boosting our exports means new jobs in the U.S.,” Senator Baucus said. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a window of opportunity for our exports to reach new consumers in markets across the Pacific. Through the TPP, we can help ensure our trading partners play by the rules and open their markets to American exports. A high-standard TPP agreement that works for the U.S. will create jobs at home and further strengthen our role as a leader in the global economy.”

    While in New Zealand, Senator Baucus will meet with Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser, among other political leaders, to discuss the progress of TPP negotiations and pursue trade opportunities for American businesses that would create additional U.S. jobs. Senator Baucus will also tour the Mokai geothermal power plant. The Mokai facility is New Zealand's largest privately developed geothermal project. The U.S. is New Zealand’s third-largest trading partner; U.S. exports to New Zealand totaled $4.4 billion in 2010. Major U.S. exports to New Zealand include aircraft, automobiles, medical devices and petroleum products.

    In Japan, Senator Baucus will meet with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Economic and Trade Minister Yukido Edano to seek expanded access for U.S. exports. Senator Baucus will also discuss the possibility of Japan joining the TPP negotiations in the future. He will also tour a Tesla Motors facility that will sell electric automobiles made in the U.S. and exported to Japan. Japan is the world’s third largest economy, and U.S. exports to Japan totaled $113 billion in 2011. The main U.S. exports to Japan include chemicals, pharmaceutical goods, films and music, commercial aircraft, nonferrous metals, plastics and medical and scientific supplies.

    In 2009, Senator Baucus pushed the administration to reaffirm the United States’ role as a robust partner in the TPP negotiations, and he has continually called for the agreement to strengthen U.S. job-creating trade ties and include high-level standards for labor issues, environmental standards and intellectual property protection. In 2011, with Japan, Mexico and Canada announcing their interest in joining the TPP negotiations, Senator Baucus said each country must be ready to quickly accept the TPP’s high-standard commitments. Mexico and Canada will likely join the TPP this fall after congressional consultations conclude. If Japan also joins the TPP, the total number of consumers across TPP countries would grow by 50 percent, and the participating countries would represent more than 40 percent of global GDP.

    Senator Baucus last traveled to Japan in 2004 to explore the opportunity for expanded trade with the U.S. More recently, he traveled to Russia in February to pursue export opportunities and discuss the U.S. establishing permanent normal trade relations with Russia (the Finance Committee passed his PNTR bill in July 2012). In early 2011, Baucus led a trade mission to Colombia and Brazil to promote U.S. exports and prepare for the debate over the FTA with Colombia that had not yet been approved at that point. Senator Baucus traveled to China in late 2010 to push China’s leaders on their currency undervaluation and boost American competitiveness.

  • 10 Aug 2012 1:13 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Vista Entertainment Solutions Ltd, a global leader in entertainment software solutions, has won the Supreme Award for trade with the United States at the 13th AmCham DHL Express Success & Innovation Awards, held last night at Auckland’s Pullman Auckland Hotel.

    The Supreme Award is chosen from the winners of each of the categories presented on the night. The complete list of winners follows:

        Importer of the Year from the USA: Seychelle Water Filters Ltd

        Investor of the Year to or from the USA: Mighty River Power Ltd

        Exporter of the Year – under NZ$500,000: Red Witch Analog Ltd

        Exporter of the Year – NZ$500,001 – 5 million:  Vista Entertainment Solutions Ltd

        Exporter of the Year – over NZ$5 million: Yealands Estate Wines

        Trevor Eagle Memorial Award – AmCham Supporter of the Year: Pfizer New Zealand Ltd

        Supreme Award Winner:  Vista Entertainment Solutions Ltd

    Vista Entertainment’s key areas of expertise are the provision of cinema management solutions to the cinema exhibition industry as well as providing solutions for Food and Beverage facilities, and a software development service for entertainment sector customers. Over the last three years their US business has had cumulative growth of 111% with expectations of reaching 468% by 2014.

    AmCham’s Executive Director, Mike Hearn, said a record number of entries were received for the Investor of the Year category.

    “Each year we see and hear about great New Zealand success stories and their relationships with the USA, this year is no exception.  While the US economic situation is still slow, and the dollar has worked against New Zealand exporters, there are still many companies growing their business and presence in the USA,” said Mr Hearn.

    Tim Baxter, Country Manager for DHL Express New Zealand said DHL is proud to continue its support of the 2012 AmCham-DHL Express Success and Innovation Awards.

    “It’s great to acknowledge Kiwi companies who are realizing success in the USA. DHL has experienced strong double digit growth in US exports and imports and we see this as an increasingly important market for NZ businesses. We’re proud of our ability to support companies doing business with the US and last month launched a dedicated US freighter which has reduced transit time by a day between the US and NZ,” said Mr Baxter. 

    The AmCham DHL Express Success and Innovation Awards celebrate success and innovation in the export, import and investment sectors between New Zealand and its third-largest trading partner, the US. Prizes include NZ$2,500 for air travel to the USA on Qantas Airways for winners of the importer and exporter categories.

    In addition to AmCham, DHL-Express and Qantas, the awards are also supported by Baldwins and Fonterra, a two-time winner of the Supreme Award in 2008 and 2009.

    Other previous winners of the Supreme Award include Zespri International, Specialist Marine Interiors, Peace Software, Airways Corporation, HumanWare, Tenon, Orion Systems International, Zeacom and Pratt & Whitney Air New Zealand Services t/a Christchurch Engine Centre, and Buckley Systems.