New Zealand: Background and Bilateral Relations with the United States
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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New Zealand and the United States continue to have strong ties despite some differences. These close ties are based on shared cultural traditions and values. Differences between the United States and New Zealand emerged in the mid-1980s over New Zealands policy to ban nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered ships from its ports. This led to a defacto split between the United States and New Zealand within the context of the Australia-New Zealand-United States ANZUS alliance. Despite this issue, New Zealand is a regular contributor to international peace operations and has contributed troops to the war against terror in Afghanistan and to assist reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Helen Clark, who will likely seek a third term as prime minister in elections that must be held before September 2005, New Zealand is seeking a closer economic relationship with the United States through a free trade agreement FTA. The United States is New Zealands second most important trading partner after Australia. While the overall volume of trade with new Zealand is relatively small, at U.S. 5 billion in 2004, progress on the FTA is viewed as politically significant. In February of 2005, Representatives Jim Kolbe and Ellen Tauscher launched the Friends of New Zealand Congressional Caucus. Initial membership of the caucus totaled 56 Members of Congress. A possible free trade agreement with New Zealand may be an issue for Congress in the year ahead.
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