Fourth United States New Zealand Partnership Forum
Speech by Hon Phil Goff, Leader of the Opposition
22 February 2011
First, a warm welcome to our guests from the United States.
Yours is the largest ever Congressional delegation and official delegation from the US to visit New Zealand.
We are appreciative that such a large group of leaders from the US should travel half way across the world to reaffirm
the relationship between our two countries.
John Mullen, can I acknowledge your longstanding leadership of the US-NZ Council and congratulate you on your award as
Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Susan Schwab, it was a real pleasure to work with you as a colleague and a friend on the hard negotiations in Geneva on
the Doha round of the WTO.
It was an example of how our two countries, different in size and sometimes perspective, could work together closely in
pursuit of common objectives.
And we were both proud to launch the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations which had their origins over a bottle of New
Zealand sauvignon blanc in Bali.
I would like also to acknowledge former Deputy Secretary of State, Rich Armitage, who played an important role in
setting the NZ-US relationship on a new path.
And I pay tribute to the role of Chris Hill and Kurt Campbell as former and current Assistant Secretaries of State who
have both been outstanding in promoting NZ-US relations.
This is the fourth Partnership Forum and it has come a long way from the first tentative steps we took in 2006.
Many of you here have contributed to that progress.
There is a reason why busy people have put an effort into making it a success.
One is historic and based on sentiment. We are old friends, with a common heritage and shared values of democratic
institutions, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Over many conflicts in the twentieth century, we fought side by side.
And we have worked together to address pressing global issues.
And as Ambassador David Huebner said yesterday, our relationship is one of ‘special friends approaching family’.
And in my case that is literally true, with four American nephews and a niece.
We have strong people to people relationships.
But the reason for this forum is more than simply sentiment.
There are strong practical reasons for making the relationship as good as we can.
Working together enables us better to achieve common objectives.
The reason why the US is important to us is obvious.
You are the world’s preeminent political, economic and military power.
That gives you both enormous influence but also daunting responsibility.
New Zealand by contrast is a small country which does not have a critical geostrategic location.
As David Lange once put it ‘we are a strategic dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica!’
But New Zealand in a number of areas can and does play a significant role which belies our small size.
We have been a key player in international trade negotiations.
At the WTO, Mike Moore served as a very effective Director General, launching the Doha Round.
Three successive New Zealand ambassadors have chaired the important Agriculture Negotiating Committee.
We were the first and are still the only developed country to negotiate a free trade agreement with China, which I
signed in 2008. It is a comprehensive and high quality agreement, which has seen New Zealand exports to China double in
less than 3 years.
We negotiated a similar high quality agreement with Asean and Australia in 2008.
And out P4 agreement was the starting point of negotiations on the TPP.
New Zealand and the US both believe that openness to trade and competition fuel economic dynamism and innovation which
in turn raises productivity and standards of living globally.
Completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, let alone by November, will be hugely challenging.
But the rewards will be enormous. It has the potential to be a model 21st century regional trade agreement.
It brings both of our countries to the heart of the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic economic region.
It presents the greatest chance of breaking down trade barriers in important markets like Japan and Canada though there
are risks in bringing those countries into the negotiations before the initial TPP is determined.
It presents a realistic way of building an Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement under APEC by being a pathfinder agreement.
It has the potential to stimulate progress within the Doha Round just as the formation of APEC did to the Uruguay Round.
Both our countries have defensive interests. New Zealand sees no reason why its bulk pharmaceutical purchasing
arrangements by Pharmac should be altered by negotiations.
We strongly defend intellectual property rights but there is a balance between these and consumer rights.
New Zealand encourages foreign direct investment but there are areas where a small country would wish to maintain
domestic ownership to protect is economic sovereignty.
The US dairy industry is strongly protectionist but on any rational analysis, New Zealand presents no real threat to the
US dairy market but can be an effective collaborator in adding value to and marketing US products.
On both sides we need to work to carry our domestic constituencies with us, and see the wider benefits from success in
concluding the deal.
While I have dwelled on trade, there are many other areas for fruitful US-NZ cooperation.
New Zealand and the US share a commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.
The quid pro quo for taking the world in that direction is firm commitment by the nuclear powers to disarm
progressively. President Obama’s commitment to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons opens up areas for future
collaboration between our two countries.
New Zealand is a peace-loving but not a pacifist country.
It is committed to peace-keeping and to military action when that is the necessary and right thing to do.
In Afghanistan we were involved right from the start after 9/11, and were one of the first three countries to set up a
PRT which we have supported for 8 years.
But for sacrifice to be warranted there must be a regime capable of winning the support of its own people.
An endemically corrupt regime which alienates it people will not do that.
In the South Pacific, New Zealand has a particular role to play in promoting a stable and peaceful region, and one which
can grow sustainably.
We welcome the new focus of US attention to the region and its reengagement with a development assistance programme.
We would welcome a collaborative approach with the US Coastguard and other agencies to the security, stability and
development of the region.
Add to these areas, cooperation in Antarctica which is long-standing and mutually supportive, education exchanges
through Fulbright, cooperation to address global warming through the Global Alliance on agricultural emissions, science
and technology cooperation and you can see rich areas for practical cooperation.
As sovereign and independent countries, we will each have our own views and interests.
But our relationship is showing increased readiness on both sides to accept our differences and for our relationship to
be defined by what we have in common, by our friendship and by how we can advance our common agenda by cooperation.
Our relationship is in good shape and moving forward.
We should work together ever more constructively to shape a better world.
I would like to thank the US/NZ and NZ/US Councils for their efforts in once again organising this forum which has been
an effective contributor to this goal and thank all of you for coming.