New Zealand Embassy Washington, United States of America

NZ Foreign Minister speaks at CSIS

During his visit to Washington DC, New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs the Honourable Murray McCully, delievered a speech at the Center of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) titled "New Zealand and the United States: Pacific Partners". To watch the address click here.

Transcript is as follows:

HON MURRAY MCCULLY: Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you about some of the key features of New Zealand’s foreign policy, and in particular some key areas in which they intersect with the interests of the United States and provide a basis for closer cooperation in the years immediately ahead.

I am in Washington this week to continue the wide-ranging dialogue between New Zealand and the United States about areas in which we can work together and share perspectives.

Yesterday, I met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and we discussed progress we’d made since November last year under the framework the Wellington Declaration provides to our relationship.

The topics we discussed ranged from Afghanistan - where our two countries are working shoulder-to-shoulder – to challenges in the Middle East and North Africa, as well the direction of Asian regional economic architecture.

It’s clear from the range of discussions I’ve had in Washington, with representatives from the National Security Council, the Congress, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, that there is a strong sense of partnership that’s emerging between our two countries.

Our small South Pacific country has a heritage deeply rooted in Europe.

Our values and principles, strongly focused around the rule of law, human rights and a commitment to democratic institutions are deeply imbedded in European tradition.

And they are the basis of our strong sense of alignment with the United States of America on the vast majority of issues that challenge today’s world.

But in other respects we are defined by our geography.

Our economic prospects are deeply intertwined with those of the rapidly growing countries of Asia. Yet both our makeup and our geography give us an increasing involvement in and responsibility for the future stability and security of the Pacific.

I often refer to the former as our zone of opportunity, and the latter as our zone of responsibility. In both of these two respects we see dynamic, evolving situations in which the strong sense of alignment between our two countries should see us working increasingly closely together.

New Zealand’s relationship with its closest neighbour, Australia, is both our greatest asset and our greatest challenge. For 30 years our two countries have enjoyed probably the world’s most complete free trade deal and the massive degree of economic integration has been overwhelmingly positive for the New Zealand economy.

At the same time, the fact that our people and our capital have complete freedom of movement to Australia presents a constant challenge. Unless New Zealand can present opportunities that are the equal of those available across the Tasman, both our capital and skills will gradually migrate there.

The fact that we live on the edge of the Asia Pacific region, at the time of what is widely regarded as the Asia Pacific century, is our big opportunity. And the architecture now in place should provide a strong basis for pursuing this opportunity.

We were the first developed nation to conclude a free trade deal with China. And our exports have doubled in the three years that FTA has been in operation, with China now moving past the US as our second largest trading partner behind Australia.

Ratification has just been completed of the FTA between the CER partners, Australia and New Zealand and ASEAN, creating a market of over 600 million people, including the economies of Vietnam and Indonesia, growing at 7% or more.

We are in FTA discussions with Korea and with India. Indeed, we are also close to concluding an FTA with Russia. But it is the prospect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, bringing the prospect of a single Pacific market including the US and New Zealand along with other Pacific rim countries that holds the best promise of a game-changing initiative in our wider region.

And it is here that economic leadership from our two countries is important to the TPP proposal succeeding. But it is not just in the area of trade that our two countries are able to cooperate in relation to the economies of Asia.

This year the US joins the East Asia Summit – an organization that New Zealand been a party to since its inception. We very much welcome this initiative which will bring that body very much closer to becoming the regional clearing house on matters of regional security, trade, economic and disaster management cooperation.

The character of US participation in the EAS later this year will have a key influence over the shape of regional architecture for some time ahead. And it has been valuable here in Washington to secure a closer understanding of how that process is seen. We are very keen to play a constructive role here.

US interests in Asia and the US determination to engage more actively in the region will see our two countries work more closely together in the years immediately ahead. But it is in relation to our involvement in our Pacific neighbourhood that I wanted to focus most of my remarks today.

When it comes to the Pacific, our two countries have much in common. New Zealand is a country comprised of two large Pacific Islands. The United States has one state, Hawaii, and three territories – Guam, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa – which are also islands sitting in the Pacific Ocean.

And, just as New Zealand has special relationships with the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau, the same is true of the United States and the three Compact states of the North Pacific: Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

In September of this year the 16 nations of the Pacific Forum including Australia and New Zealand, will hold the 40th anniversary meeting in Auckland.

I welcomed the opportunity for New Zealand to host this milestone meeting because the Government of which I am a member has attempted to sharply elevate our focus on our own role in the region.

In the past week I have been in both Tonga and the Cook Islands. Over the next few weeks I will visit the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Niue and probably Fiji. I say probably Fiji because that visit is planned as a member of a Ministerial Contact Group of the Pacific Forum, and yet to be confirmed.

The reason that we are so focused on New Zealand’s role in the region is simple: we are, in a population sense, very much part of it.

Let me illustrate my point: There are now a little over 170,000 Samoans living in Samoa – yet there are over 130,000 Samoan New Zealanders. There are approximately 100,000 Tongans in Tonga – and over 50,000 Tongan New Zealanders. Because Cook Islanders, Niueans and Tokelauans are New Zealand citizens they are able to enter New Zealand as of right. So while there are 12,500 Cook Islanders in the Cooks, there are over 60,000 New Zealand Cook Islanders. And there are over 22,000 Niuean New Zealanders, but only 1000 left in Niue.

So New Zealand today has developed a complex web of family and other connections around our region. They equip our country in a unique way to play a role as a regional facilitator, especially in our own part of the Pacific, Polynesia. They give us a capacity to deliver to our partnership with Australia in the region a level of engagement that compensates to some extent for our relative lack of size and budget. So, for New Zealand, hosting the 40th meeting of Pacific leaders is an opportunity to advance an agenda that we believe is critical to the future viability of the region and its members.

I want to mention just three areas in particular in which I hope to see our cooperation enhanced in the immediate future.

First, we very much welcome the fact that USAID will again become a presence in the Pacific region and we understand the challenges in having a coordinated presence on the ground in the Pacific. Between New Zealand and Australia we are developing an almost instinctive capacity to avoid duplication. I would like to think that between the two Trans Tasman partners we could offer the opportunity for partnerships that would ensure that the US could establish a strong and visible development presence, relying substantially on our facilitation skills.

Second, in relation to governance, we need to acknowledge that there remain significant challenges for us to deal with in the region. Political instability has, sadly, become too great a feature of too many Pacific nations. That is one of the reasons we need to maintain a firm position on Fiji. If military coups were to become acceptable within our region this would be a most unwelcome addition to the mix. In that respect there is a need for active, complementary diplomacy and development work from New Zealand Australia and the United States focused around improved governance in the region. And we need to work together to ensure that other partners are encouraged to work closely with us.

My third point is that there are two sectors in particular that call for a strong and immediate focus in terms of our development programmes: the provision of renewable energy and the management of fisheries. All of the smaller Pacific nations are being hammered by the cost of imported diesel to generate electricity. For many it represents arguably the largest single strain on their economies. Many reports have been written by consultants. Yet little has been done to introduce renewable energy into the Pacific. Leading up to the Forum Leaders meeting later this year I hope this is something we can change.

I hope that this can be a key area for cooperation between out two countries. And I hope that between us we can reach out to involve other players. The fisheries resource of the Pacific represents the largest single economic asset of some of the poorest countries in the region. Kirbati, arguably the poorest nation in the Pacific, has an EEZ of over 3.5 million square kilometers. Yet far too little of the benefit of this resource remains in the hands of its owners.

Across the 14 Pacific nations that are members of the Forum, around $2billion of fish was taken legally last year. At least another $400 million worth was taken illegally. At the moment the US Tuna Treaty hangs in the balance - this is an area where we want to work together. There needs to be fairer returns provided to the Pacific Island countries for resources taken from their EEZ and enhanced opportunities for their direct participation in the fishery.

But we also recognize that this should be in terms that secure the continued presence of the US in the fishery. This is important to us in the context of our own development objectives and upgrade in overall fisheries management in the region.

My point here is that some collective work from partners to ensure improved fisheries management, better surveillance, training of observers or monitors, and training of Pacific people for employment in the fisheries sector could materially improve economic outcomes for many Pacific countries.

New Zealand is currently the largest provider of aerial surveillance of Pacific Island country EEZs. And with the roll-out of our new Offshore Patrol Vessels, there will be a significant increase in New Zealand’s surface patrolling of the Pacific from 2011.

This is an area where we work very closely with the United States Coast Guard- and we’re looking to step up our engagement even further through the Coast Guard’s “Oceania Maritime Security Initiative”.

Again, this is an area in which I hope you will see collective action from the Forum, and from their partners, later this year. I hope we will also squarely face up to the fact that there are still very substantial challenges within the region, particularly in relation to economic and environmental sustainability.

So we look forward to welcoming the US delegation to New Zealand and we welcome the strong sense of partnership that’s emerging between our two countries in a region that is our immediate neighbourhood.

I’d like to close my remarks today by underlining just how seriously New Zealand takes its commitment to the Pacific region and how highly we regard US engagement in support of a prosperous and secure Pacific that’s able to provide its people with the opportunities they deserve.

We know what the challenges are and together I believe we have the capacity to meet them.

Thank you very much.


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