I am pleased to report on the Council’s activities for the 2009-10 year. This is my seventh report as Chairman of the Council.
2010 has been another significant year for the New Zealand United States relationship. Earlier this month Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and Prime Minister John Key signed the Wellington Declaration about the future of the relationship and co-operation in areas such as regional security, non-proliferation, climate change and South Pacific issues. The Declaration marks another milestone in efforts to strengthen the relationship and is a credit to all those who have worked so hard over the past five years and before that towards the goal of stronger links between our two countries. The Secretary’s visit spoke volumes about the current state of the relationship.
Negotiations commence with the US and other TPP members
Following confirmation of US involvement, the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations finally got underway in March 2010 . Three rounds of negotiations have been held, the first in Melbourne in March, the second in San Francisco in June, and the most recent in Brunei from 4 to 8 October. A further round will be held in Auckland in the week of 6 December 2010. The first two rounds focused on resolving a number of difficult preliminary issues. Talks are ongoing on some of these. Substantive discussions commenced on the full range of issues during the Brunei round. Malaysia’s request to join the negotiations received unanimous approval during the Brunei round and, as expected, Viet Nam became a full member. This brings the total number of negotiating parties to nine. Other countries remain interested, including Canada and Japan.
The NZ US Council has worked throughout the year to provide support for government negotiating efforts. Research has continued on key issues. I am very pleased that New Zealand’s Chief Negotiator, Mark Sinclair, will update members on developments and plans for the next round in Auckland at the AGM.
As we head into 2011 the Council will continue its efforts in support of the negotiations. With President Obama committed to concluding the negotiations by the time of the Honolulu APEC Summit in November next year, the negotiating programme in 2011 can be expected to be a very intense.
Pacific Partners Study on the NZ US Relationship
A key initiative for the Council in 2010 has been the launch of a major new study of the NZ US relationship. The “Pacific Partners” study is being undertaken by the influential Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in association with the New Zealand Institute for International Affairs. The Council is jointly funding the study with our counterpart organisation in Washington, the USNZ Council. A seminar to take forward this study was held in Washington on 27 October and a further one will take place in New Zealand next week. The study will culminate in a report on the state of the bi-lateral relationship with recommendations on how to strengthen further existing links. The research will consider aspects including trade and investment; security; science, technology and education; socio-cultural ties and trans-national issues such as climate change, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, nuclear non-proliferation, and global health.
The results of the study will be presented and discussed at the fourth USNZ Partnership Forum.
Fourth US NZ Partnership Forum, February 2011
The fourth USNZ Partnership Forum will be held in Christchurch from 20-22 February 2011. The Forum will meet under the theme “The Power of Partnering: Global Challenges and the Future of the USNZ Partnership”. Former US Trade Representative, Ambassador Susan Schwab has once again agreed to co-chair the Forum with me. A high level US delegation, including Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, and a congressional delegation led by the co-chairs of the Friends of New Zealand Congressional Caucus, Rick Larsen and Kevin Brady, will travel to New Zealand for the Forum. Already, a good number of senior New Zealand business people and NZUS relationship supporters have indicated they will attend on the New Zealand side together with ministers, senior officials, and representatives from the Opposition.
In addition to consideration of the Pacific Partners Study, the Forum’s wider programme will address four “big ideas” for the future where an expanded USNZ partnership has the potential to make a difference:
• Feeding the world safely and sustainably;
• Addressing climate change and building a low carbon economy;
• Building a platform for continued growth in the Asia Pacific region;
• Building a platform for political engagement and security in the Asia Pacific region.
The agenda will take into account feedback received about the last partnership forum and feature key note addresses, panel discussions and break-out sessions.
The Board continued to meet four times a year and I am grateful to my colleagues for their support. During the year we said farewell to Cam Wallace and welcomed Scott Carr as Air New Zealand’s representative. Nigel Moore replaced David Taylor, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s representative following David’s appointment as Ambassador to Indonesia. We extend our warm congratulations to David on this appointment. We continue to value the involvement of all members of our Advisory Board and thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for its continuing funding and the NZ Embassy in Washington for its valuable assistance.
The Board has been able to secure renewed sponsorship from many of our existing supporters for which we are very grateful. We have been particularly pleased to welcome new members, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Limited, Medicines New Zealand, Orion Health, Pratt & Whitney Air New Zealand Services, Telecom New Zealand, The Tindall Foundation, Turners & Growers, University of Canterbury, Westland Milk Products and Zespri International. The Council continues to operate as a virtual organization with minimal infrastructure and overheads. Our executive, Stephen Jacobi and Gabrielle Rush, are retained on a consultancy basis and we are fortunate to be able to benefit from their expert advice and guidance. We have also valued the assistance this year of board member, Fiona Cooper-Clarke who has overseen the Pacific Partners Initiative, among other work. A high level of public advocacy of the relationship has been maintained through regular press articles and speeches and through our informative website (www.nzuscouncil.com).
During the year the Council’s Executive Director visited Washington in May to attend the USNZ Council’s AGM, to engage in discussions on TPP and the Pacific Partners Study and to undertake planning for the 2011 Partnership Forum. Fiona Cooper-Clarke visited Washington on behalf of the Council in late October to participate in the first seminar to take forward the Pacific Partners Study and engage in wider discussions and Partnership Forum planning.
The Year Ahead
I am very optimistic as we look towards 2011 with TPP negotiations now well underway, a further Partnership Forum planned and a major new study launched on the current state and future direction of the relationship. We look forward to hosting the fourth Partnership Forum and will continue to work alongside business and government to co-ordinate NZ Inc. support for TPP negotiations. The results of the Pacific Partners Study, which will be presented and discussed at the Partnership Forum, will provide a framework for our work on deepening NZ US relations in the 2011 year.
I believe that as we move forward the Council enjoys significant credibility on account of our past achievements, our strong communications platform, our wide support in the business community and the close relationships with officials and allies in both countries as well as the deliberate and professional way we implement our strategy. This will serve us well as we work to implement our programme of action and assist efforts to bring the TPP negotiations to a successful conclusion.
Rt Hon James Bolger ONZ