U.S.-NEW ZEALAND RELATIONS
New Zealand is a strong, steadfast partner and friend of the United States. The U.S. diplomatic presence in New Zealand dates back to the commissioning of the first U.S. Consul in 1838. Formal diplomatic relations were established in 1942, following the United Kingdom’s recognition of New Zealand’s domestic and external autonomy within the British Empire. During World War II, U.S. military personnel were stationed in New Zealand to prepare for battles such as Tarawa and Guadalcanal. The United States and New Zealand share common elements of history and culture and a commitment to democratic principles and the international rules-based order.
Bilateral ties between the United States and New Zealand are broad and robust. In 2010, the United States and New Zealand signed the Wellington Declaration, outlining a framework for future practical cooperation and furthering the close ties between the two countries. In 2012, the signing of the Washington Declaration enhanced the defense relationship between the United States and New Zealand by providing a structure and strategic guidance for security cooperation and defense dialogues. The United States Navy destroyer USS Sampson visited New Zealand in November 2016, the first bilateral ship visit to the country in more than 30 years. The USS Sampson’s visit took on additional significance in the aftermath of the 7.8-magnitude Kaikoura earthquake. At the request of the New Zealand Government, the USS Sampson diverted to the South Island and provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to affected communities. In November 2021, New Zealand was also visited by the destroyer USS Howard, the first US Navy vessel to visit the country since 2016.
In August 2018, the President signed into law the Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors (or KIWI) Act, which granted New Zealanders access to E1 and E2 entrepreneurship and investor visas. In May 2021, New Zealand signed the Artemis Accords, which establishes a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in NASA’s 21st century lunar exploration plans, including sending the first woman and person of color to the moon. Also in May 2021, the United States joined the “Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online,” an initiative led by New Zealand and France.
The New Zealand Government attaches significant importance to continued close political, economic, and social ties with the United States. New Zealand actively engages in peacekeeping and international security efforts around the world. New Zealand has joined U.S.-coordinated initiatives including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the Declaration for the Future of the Internet, Summit for Democracy, and Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP). As a member of the Five Eyes, New Zealand is one of our closest partners on a wide range of cyber issues, including stability in cyberspace, capacity building, and internet governance. The United States and New Zealand also work together on a range of scientific areas, especially research in Antarctica. Christchurch is the staging area for joint logistical support operations serving U.S. permanent stations at McMurdo and the South Pole, as well as New Zealand’s Scott Base. The United States and New Zealand share deep people-to-people ties, including research links, bilateral exchange programs like Fulbright, ties in sports, music, and art, and Pacific Island cultural connections.
U.S. Assistance to New Zealand
The United States provides no development assistance to New Zealand but does coordinate closely on development assistance policy in the Indo-Pacific region and globally.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Commercial ties between the United States and New Zealand are robust and growing. Two-way goods trade between the United States and New Zealand totaled $9.54 billion in 2022, with U.S. goods exports to New Zealand totaling $4.16 billion and imports totaling $5.38 billion. U.S. trade in services (exports and imports) with New Zealand totaled an estimated $4.26 billion in 2022. Services exports were $2.64 billion; services imports were $1.62 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with New Zealand was $1.22 billion in 2022. The U.S. services trade surplus with New Zealand was $1.02 billion in 2022.
Top U.S. goods exports to New Zealand include aircraft, machinery, vehicles, electric machinery, and optic and medical instruments. Top U.S. goods imports from New Zealand included meat (mostly frozen beef and lamb), beverages (mostly wine), dairy products, machinery, and albuminoidal substances (mostly casein). The United States and New Zealand have had a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in place since 1992.
In 2020, New Zealand was the fastest growing source of FDI to the United States, according to the SelectUSA agency. New Zealand FDI in the United States (stock) totaled $3.4 billion in 2020. New Zealand FDI is concentrated in software and IT services; plastics; communications; industrial equipment; transportation and business services. In 2020, U.S. direct investment in New Zealand (stock) totaled $12.9 billion concentrated in the manufacturing, finance, and wholesale trade sectors. The space sector is an area of growth with joint investments in Rocket Lab and LeoLabs, and a partnership offering NASA scholarships to New Zealand. Over 300 U.S. companies have subsidiary branches in New Zealand. Many operate through local agents, and some are in association in joint ventures.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of U.S. travelers to New Zealand and New Zealand visitors to the United States increased annually. Approximately 300,000 New Zealand visitors traveled to the United States in 2019, and a similar number of U.S. travelers visited New Zealand. New Zealand’s March 26, 2020, border closure to non-citizens due to the COVID-19 pandemic created a significant drop in visitors and in air routes and airlines flying between both countries. New Zealand reopened its borders to vaccinated U.S. visitors effective May 2022.
New Zealand’s Membership in International Organizations
New Zealand and the United States belong to many of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, ASEAN Regional Forum, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. New Zealand also belongs to the Pacific Islands Forum, of which the United States is a Dialogue Partner.
The U.S. Mission in New Zealand runs the U.S. Department of State’s premier youth leadership program for the Pacific, Young Pacific Leaders (YPL). YPL has over 460 alumni from 24 countries and territories in the Pacific. It engages individuals ages 25-35 who are likely to become leaders in their countries that often play outsized roles in multinational fora like the UN. These individuals attend workshops and conferences that address critical themes likes education, environment, civic leadership, and economic/social development.
Building people-to-people relations is a core priority for Mission New Zealand. Mission New Zealand’s people-to-people programming is focused on four priority initiatives: strengthening our Indo-Pacific security partnerships; expanding links to combat climate change; building connections between U.S. indigenous and Māori and Pacific Island communities; and championing our common democratic values in the region. Mission New Zealand uses exchange programs, such as the Fulbright Program, the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), and sports exchanges, as well as grants, academic links, outreach, and digital diplomacy to advance these U.S. policy goals.
Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
New Zealand maintains an embassy in the United States at 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-328-4800).
More information about New Zealand is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
CIA World Factbook New Zealand PageU.S. EmbassyHistory of U.S. Relations With New ZealandOffice of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries PageU.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade StatisticsTravel Information