The presence of senior US Administration, Congress and major corporate representatives underlines the significance of next week’s United States New Zealand Partnership Forum in Christchurch.
“This is the most significant gathering of New Zealand and United States government, business and community leaders in New Zealand for many years,” says NZ US Council Chairman Rt Hon James Bolger.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will be the most senior US Administration figure at the Forum, which aims to strengthen further New Zealand’s relationship with the United States.
Secretary Napolitano is the second member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet to visit New Zealand within the past 4 months, following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit in November last year.
Secretary Napolitano’s remit covers counter-terrorism, border security, natural disasters, immigration and cyber security. She will be joined at the Forum by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell.
A number of other current or former Administration representatives and 9 serving Congressmen led by Congressman Donald Manzullo (R-Illinois), Chairman of the House Sub-committee on Asia Pacific will join representatives from significant US corporates like Boeing, Kraft Foods, Lockheed Martin and Time Warner. The US delegation numbers 47 in total.
“This is the fourth United States New Zealand Partnership Forum and the strength of the US delegation really represents the remarkable progress that has been made in expanding the relationship between our countries,” says Mr Bolger.
“In the post 9/11 world and with the fault lines exposed by the 2008 financial crash, plus the growing concern regarding adequate world food supplies, coupled with events such as the unrest in Egypt, it is logical for old friends to work even more closely together.
“The Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations are one example of our expanding co-operation. At the Forum we will also be working on practical ideas in safe and sustainable food production, political engagement and security in Asia Pacific and how to build low carbon economies.”
Mr Bolger says the presence of Secretary Napolitano indicates the new level of interaction.
“Particularly when you consider her interest in areas like customs and immigration and preparation and recovery from natural disasters – on this last matter we expect the Secretary to be particularly interested in lessons from last year’s Canterbury earthquake.”
There will be a number of government to government meetings around the Forum which will also pick up on practicalities of the relationship.
The impressive US line-up will be matched by a very strong New Zealand delegation and senior Government representation.
Prime Minister John Key will open the Forum. Also attending will be Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, Trade Minister Tim Groser, and Opposition Leader Phil Goff along with other Parliamentary representatives, as well as senior government officials and Chairs and CEOs from a cross section of New Zealand industry. The New Zealand delegation numbers 63 in total.
“This will be an influential gathering of like-minded people – all keen to move forward issues of high importance to both countries. This Forum gathering will advance the relationship between the two countries,” Mr Bolger concluded.