Our relationship with the US

New Zealand and the United States have a deep and longstanding friendship, united by a commitment to promoting 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 cooperation 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 of common concern, 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)


2014 statistics

Total trade in goods 

$10.6 billion


Exports to the US

$4.7 billion 

Top exports: frozen beef, whey and milk constituents, wine

Imports from the US

$5.9 billion

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


US$17.4 trillion

GDP per capita US $54,597 (NZ GDP per capita is US$43,837)
GDP growth  2.4%  

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 frozen beef and casein (worth NZ$1.5 billion in 2014). 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 are working together with 10 other Asia-Pacific countries on negotiations for the 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

  • July 2015: Minister of Transport Hon Simon Bridges visited California and met with major vehicle manufacturers
  • June 2015: Minister of Customs Hon Nicky Wagner visited Washington and held meetings with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • March and April 2015: Minister Groser visited Washington in his capacity as Minister of Trade and later as well as in his capacity as Minister for Climate Change
  • March 2015: Minister for Women and Land information Louise Upston visited Washington for engagement with organisations working on the US National Spatial Data Infrastructure Plan

US to New Zealand

  • 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.

News & Events

NZ nominates Helen Clark for UN Secretary-General

Latin America
Middle East
North America
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Prime Minister John Key has today announced the New Zealand Government is nominating Helen Clark for the position of the United Nations Secretary-General.

Tim Groser becomes Ambassador to US

United States of America

Tim Groser has become New Zealand's Ambassador to the US, officially presenting his credentials to US President Barack Obama.

United Nations Handbook 2015-2016 released

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On 15 September the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade released the 2015-2016 edition of the United Nations Handbook. The UN Handbook is designed to be an accessible guide to the complex UN system.