PM to meet with Biden, urge US to join trade pact

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed she'll meet US President Joe Biden at the White House next week.

Ardern addressed media at Harvard University in Boston today following meetings with US senators and representatives earlier this week.

She said said would also meet with Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday.

"My intention is to continue the conversations we had in the Capitol yesterday, there are a number of areas in which the United States and New Zealand have very similar views, a numbers of areas where we wish to see their presence continue or increase.

"I imagine on the agenda will be the likes of the war in Ukraine and the considerable effort New Zealand has put in to ensuring that we're playing our part. I imagine we'll equally discuss our region and the fact that it is becoming increasingly contested, and the role of the United States in our regional economy is important. I imagine we'll also discuss trade to that end as well."

Ardern says it will be a free-flowing conversation.

"I will certainly though be passing on New Zealand's sorrow for what we have seen, to see children at the heart of this most recent event is devastating. So I will certainly acknowledge that."

She says they have three main goals in visiting the United States: "Firstly, making sure that the world hears that New Zealand is open for business."

The second is trade and investment and thirdly, Ardern says political engagement is really important - making sure New Zealand has strong relationships with the United States while there is the war in Ukraine and increasing tension in the Pacific region.

The Prime Minister says New Zealand works with like-minded people that see eye-to-eye on issues that matter to us.

"That continues to be our guiding principle."

She is really looking forward to speaking with Harris on things specific to her portfolio, in particular space.

"New Zealand is not an emerging leader in this area, we are a developed leader in this area and by launch, New Zealand is the fourth largest space operator in the world."

New Zealand's dialogue with the US on the Pacific is frequent and strengthening, she says.

On the CPTPP, Ardern says she will "absolutely" be pushing for the US to join.

"We've been open about our view that the CPTPP is the best way that the United States can join and strengthen the economic resilience of our region."

There's obviously been a step-change in the way the US is engaging in our region, she said.

New Zealand's message will be it's not just important to engage at a strategical level but actually at an economic level.

Ardern says the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework demonstrates they've heard the region.

"In our view though, the CPTPP does offer the best existing framework for them to enter into."

The IPF is still an opportunity to engage if there are domestic challenges preventing the US to do so and CPTPP gains New Zealand market access, she says.

She highlighted the formula crisis in the United States and says Fonterra is ready and willing to enter the market.

"But there are a number of regulatory reasons why that is not easy."

While in the United States Ardern has visited Senators at the US Capitol and appeared on The Late Show.

Earlier this morning, she received an honorary law doctorate from the Boston University and gave a keynote speech titled 'Democracy, disinformation and kindness' at the graduating ceremony.

On her speech, she says the issues she touched on today "are unfinished business for many of us".

"I did not come here to speak about an issue solely important to the United States, I came here to speak about an issue that from New Zealand's perspective I consider important and that I actually think has far reaching ramifications for all of us.'

Ardern says with this week's school shooting and the debate around legal access to abortion currently in the US, she can understand why issues of gun reform and abortion, mentioned in her speech, held so much emotion and response from those listening.

"It just so happens that these are issues that New Zealand has traversed, we did it in our way and I hope in time the United States does it in theirs too."

"I actually would have liked to have had a little more of an opportunity to be in the moment as it were but my teleprompter malfunctioned fairly consistently through the speech today - about every 10 seconds the speech would disappear entirely for about 3 seconds a time and so if you noticed a few pregnant pauses, that was me waiting for my words to come back on my screen," she laughs.

She said it was a stressful situation.

"Otherwise though, this felt like an incredible opportunity, not for me, but for New Zealand and I felt very honoured to take it."

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