Our relationship with the US

New Zealand and the United States have a deep and longstanding friendship, united by a commitment to promote a free, democratic, secure and prosperous world. The first US Consul to New Zealand was commissioned in 1838.

Under the Wellington Declaration, signed during Secretary Clinton’s visit in 2010, we agreed to a new focus on practical co-operation in the Pacific, and enhanced dialogue on a range of international issues. The Washington Declaration, which set out a framework for closer defence relations, was signed by Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman in 2012.

These arrangements commit our two countries to collaborate on a wide range of issues, regular meetings between ministers and annual political military talks between officials. Issues of common concern include:

  • Antarctica including safeguarding the environment, scientific research into key concerns such as climate change and supporting the Antarctic Treaty system
  • Pacific region stability, security and governance
  • Counter-terrorism and countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Asia-Pacific region and further afield
  • Free trade both internationally through the WTO and regionally through APEC

Economic relations

Economic relations span a wide range of commercial activities, including trade in goods and services, and direct foreign investment across all major sectors from heavy manufacturing to agriculture. New areas of our knowledge economy feature in the relationship, as New Zealand firms and institutions work to commercialise their intellectual property in ICT, biotech and clean technology in the US. 

New Zealand and the US established the New Zealand United States (NZUS) Council in 2001. It aims to foster and develop a strong and mutually beneficial relationship, and advocates for growing trade and economic links between the two countries. The council works closely with its American equivalent, the United States New Zealand (USNZ) Council.

More on the NZUS Council (external link)

More on the USNZ Council (external link)


2016 statistics

Total trade in goods 

$11.3 billion


Exports to the US

$5.6 billion 

Top exports: meat, dairy priducts, wine

Imports from the US

$5.7 billion

Top imports: aircraft, motor vehicles, turbo-jets and turbo-propellers


US$18 trillion

GDP per capita US$56,129 (NZ GDP per capita is US$54,177)
GDP growth  2.6%  

The US is New Zealand’s third-largest individual trading partner, and there continues to be scope for further development. It’s a major market for agricultural products, and New Zealand’s largest market for beef and edible offal (worth NZ$1.9 billion in 2015). It’s also a significant source of foreign direct investment, innovation and research, and tourism.

Free trade negotiations with the US

Securing a free trade agreement negotiation with the US has been a key New Zealand trade objective for more than a decade.

New Zealand and the US worked together with 10 other Asia-Pacific countries on negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership. These negotiations have concluded and the text has been released. Detailed information about TPP and the text of the Agreement can be found here Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Working Holiday Scheme

New Zealanders over the age of 18 who are students or recent graduates can apply for a 12-month working holiday visa for the US.

For more information, read the US Embassy website (external link).


New Zealand is represented in the US by the:

The US is represented in New Zealand by the:

Recent official visits

New Zealand to the US

  • September 2016: Minister for Conservation Maggie Barry attended Our Ocean Conference in Washington
  • April 2016: Prime Minister John Key travelled to Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit
  • December 2015: Minister of Economic Development Steven Joyce travelled to Houston on the inaugural Air New Zealand flight
  • July 2015: Minister of Transport Simon Bridges visited California and met with major vehicle manufacturers
  • June 2015: Minister of Customs Nicky Wagner visited Washington and held meetings with US Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement


US to New Zealand

  • August 2016: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Danny Russel attended the NZ/US Strategic Dialgoue
  • July 2016: Vice President Joe Biden visited Auckland
  • July 2015: Commander of United States Pacific Command, Admiral Harry B. Harris, visited New Zealand to hold talks with the Government and senior Defence officials
  • June 2015: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Danny Russel attended the 6th US-NZ Partnership Forum
  • January 2015: Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee Jamesen visited New Zealand en route to Antarctica, where New Zealand and the United States have various joint operations and projects