Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to travel to the United States, a possible visit to the White House is on the cards

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is smiling today at the post-ministerial press conference - the day Australia's travel bubble started.

Robert Kitchen / Stuff

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is smiling today at the post-ministerial press conference – the day Australia’s travel bubble started.

  • Both sides eager to meet but COVID complicates White House visit
  • Journey is part of pushing trade and technology around major US markets
  • The United States is New Zealand’s third largest trading partner
  • Prime Minister to deliver Harvard commencement speech 371

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden may head to the White House to meet US President Joe Biden as part of a business trip to promote New Zealand.

The government announced the visit on Monday morning, and Ardern is expected to leave on Monday afternoon.

The trip is framed as part of the government’s “reconnection strategy”, as Ardern steps out on the world stage to show that New Zealand is once again open for business.

Plan to visit New York, Washington DC, Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle.

“New Zealand’s relationship with the United States is one of the most enduring and important. This mission will be characterized by political and security engagement, as well as tourism and commercial promotion.”

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Because of US Covid travel rules, the prime minister, who was due to leave on Saturday, had to postpone her trip until 10 days after she tested positive for the virus.

The result also complicated a possible visit to the White House, which the two countries are keen on.

A delegation including officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as a media unit left New Zealand on Saturday. Business delegates will join the party on Monday (NZT).

Parliament TV

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made her first public appearance since testing positive for Covid-19, and attended nearly time for questions in the House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon

A highlight of the trip – and the event around which the trip is organized – is that Ardern delivers Harvard’s commencement speech.

The speech has previously been given by META founder Mark Zuckerberg, former President John F. Kennedy, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, and wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Ardern won’t be drawn to what she’s going to talk about, saying that she’s been crafting the speech for the past three weeks, and that I “might finish the speech first.”

Politically, I can’t imagine a more important time for political engagement. Obviously, you will see the United States engaged in the last few days with the new applicants to NATO.

“Full focus – not only on what the war in Ukraine means for the United States, but for the world – (and) also focus on our region,” she said in a pre-flight interview with the media via Zoom.

The United States is New Zealand’s third largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth $18.5 billion annually. It is also New Zealand’s largest trading partner in services.

Ardern is scheduled to meet with top technology executives at Microsoft, Twitter and Amazon, as well as global hedge fund Blackrock.

Companies are giant players. Amazon’s revenue for 2021 was twice the size of the entire New Zealand economy that year.

Ardern will also drive tourism.

“The US was our third largest tourist market for arrivals before Covid, with travelers planning to visit months before coming in the New Zealand summer,” she said. “So now is the time to be visible in the US market [and] Informing Americans that we are open for work and travel.”

While the Prime Minister, while in the state, is expected to meet the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, and United Nations Secretary-General Angelo Guterres.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hopes to meet US President Joe Biden (pictured) during her trip.  The United States is New Zealand's third largest trading partner.

Susan Walsh/AFP

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hopes to meet US President Joe Biden (pictured) during her trip. The United States is New Zealand’s third largest trading partner.

The visit comes at a time when the government is seeking to build on its relationship with the United States.

New Zealand in recent years has drawn closer to traditional Western partners, both during the Russian war in Ukraine and more generally by adopting the region’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” language.

The US relationship is very fundamental to us from a political and security standpoint. In a world of increasing challenges, we need to work closely with friends who share our values, so this is an important journey to take now,” Ardern said.

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