Our relationship with the US

New Zealand and the United States are close strategic partners. We 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 2010 Wellington Declaration, 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
  • 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 

$16.1 billion


Exports to the US

$8 billion 

Top goods exports: meat, dairy products, wine

Imports from the US

$8 billion

Top goods imports: machinery, aircraft, vehicles, and medical equipment

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 over NZ$1 billion in 2016). It’s also a significant source of foreign direct investment, innovation and research, and tourism.

In August 2018, US President Trump signed the KIWI Act. When implemented, that Act will allow New Zealanders to apply for E1/E2 trade and investment visas. You can read more about the KIWI Act in this statement (external link)by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The Act has not yet been implemented; there will be further announcements when it has.

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

  • October 2018: Minister of Trade and Export Growth David Parker visited Washington DC
  • September 2018: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited New York for the UN General Assembly
  • June 2017: Minister of Trade Todd McClay visited Washington DC and Los Angeles
  • April 2017: Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully visited Honolulu to meet with senior figures in the US Pacific Command
  • March 2017: Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully attended a Counter-ISIL meeting in Washington
  • April 2016: Prime Minister John Key travelled to Washington for the Nuclear Security Summit


US to New Zealand

  • August 2018: Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, Philip Davidson, visited New Zealand to hold talks with the Government and senior Defence officials
  • June 2017: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Wellington
  • November 2016: Secretary of State John Kerry visited Christchurch as part of a visit to Antarctica
  • 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

News & Events

APEC 2021 Bill introduced to the House

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The new Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC 2021) Bill was introduced to the House on Wednesday by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Measles outbreak in New Zealand

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Find out more about the current outbreak of measles in New Zealand.