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US NZ Partnership Forum to reconvene in 2007

Media Release

23 April 2006

US NZ Partnership Forum to reconvene in 2007

The first ever US NZ Partnership Forum, held in Washington DC 20-22 April, has been judged an outstanding success and the event will be repeated in New Zealand in 2007.

Forum Co-Chair and NZ US Council Chairman Jim Bolger said the Washington event surpassed expectations in terms of the participation from the US side. “We’ve had an extraordinary opportunity to influence the thinking of some key people in Washington DC. They now know a lot more about New Zealand and its potential to contribute to US global business interests. That can only prove positive for the future.”

As a non-governmental initiative of the two Councils, the Chatham House Rule applied to the Forum discussion, making the substance of the discussion essentially off-the-record. The Forum agenda covered issues such as the Asia-Pacific century and its significance to the United States and New Zealand, the future for the WTO negotiations, the challenge of doing business in the post-9/11 world, and how business in both countries could adapt to tightening energy supplies.

Forum Co-chair George Mitchell, the former Senate Majority Leader and current Chairman of the law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary stated: “Our two countries have stood shoulder to shoulder through two world wars, and in many other places throughout the globe during the last 100 years or so, including in Afghanistan today. We have fought together for the sake of freedom, and to combat oppression, and we have always been prepared to pay the heavy price."

Forum participant and Air New Zealand Chairman John Palmer said: “This was a great start but the true value of the Forum will probably not be felt for some years. The immediate benefit is the quality of the interaction between business and political leaders. The chemistry was great and is probably the best reflection of the real strength of the relationship between the two countries."

President of the US-NZ Council John Mullen emphasised the scope and richness of the frank exchanges at the Forum. “As western nations on the Pacific Rim, we have a common heritage and values but have different histories and play different global roles. These differences engender different perspectives and sometimes different viewpoints. This Forum was a unique opportunity to understand and learn from one another and the distinguished participants achieved that superbly.”

NZ US Council Executive Director Stephen Jacobi said the discussion had been robust and positive. “The most pleasing outcome is the commitment to meet in New Zealand next year, which will be a great way to keep the momentum going. The NZ US Council will begin preparations for the next event immediately.”

A full list of the business, government and academic leaders from both countries participating in the Forum is available at Keynote addresses at the Forum were given by Hon Phil Goff, Minister of Trade and Minister of Defence; Hon Frank Lavin, Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce; Hon Chris Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific; Jack Valenti, former President and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America; Tom Donohue, President of the US Chamber of Commerce; Hon Don Brash, Leader of the New Zealand National Party; and Senator George Mitchell.


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