Washington — Officials from the United States and New Zealand discussed job-supporting trade initiatives during a recent meeting in Washington, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
USTR Ron Kirk met with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key July 22 to discuss trade issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the Doha Development Agenda of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In particular, Kirk and Key reviewed progress in the TPP negotiations following the seventh round of talks held June 15–24 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The TPP, created in 2006 by Singapore, New Zealand and Chile, aims to promote regionwide economic cooperation. Officials from the eight current TPP member economies — Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States — aim to revise and extend the TPP to reflect 21st-century trade standards, which include ensuring worker rights and protecting the environment.
In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce July 22, Key said, “TPP represents something genuinely new and important. It will establish a framework that will work for countries as diverse as Vietnam, New Zealand and the U.S.”
Kirk and Key also discussed the close working relationship between the United States and New Zealand in APEC and agreed to continue to work closely on issues of mutual importance throughout APEC negotiations.
In remarks with Key following their meeting, Kirk cited appreciation for New Zealand’s strong support for the APEC forum. The United States and New Zealand share as a priority that APEC leaders reach an agreement by the meeting in November, according to USTR.
Kirk also stressed the need for a successful completion of the long-running Doha round of world trade talks. A successful conclusion of those talks is one of the economic goals of the Obama administration.
The Doha Development Agenda, launched in 2001, seeks to liberalize trade and enhance market access for agricultural products, manufactured goods and services. Negotiations over the global free-trade agreement, which strives to alleviate poverty and boost the international economy, stalled in 2006 because of divisions among the major trading nations.
In connection with the Doha talks, Kirk and Key discussed the challenges facing negotiators and the importance of exploring options for productive steps.
The USTR is responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade and overseeing trade negotiations with other countries. The agency works under the premise that trade expansion is critical to fueling economic growth, supporting good jobs, encouraging investment, raising living standards and creating affordable goods and services worldwide.
In 2010, New Zealand was the United States’ 56th-largest supplier of goods, with exports to United States valued at $2.8 billion. New Zealand was the United States’ 51st-largest goods export market in 2010, with those goods valued at $2.8 billion, according to USTR.