The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Key of New Zealand after Bilateral Meeting
June 20, 2014, 11:51 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it is a great pleasure to welcome my good friend, Prime Minister Key, to the Oval Office. The last time I saw him, we were on a golf course in Hawaii with his son. And although we will not divulge the scores, it is important to note that John’s son, Max, can outdrive both of us by a substantial amount.
During the course of my presidency and John’s prime ministership, I think it’s fair to say that the U.S.-New Zealand relationship has never been stronger. We share values, we have enormously strong people-to-people relationships, we have excellent commercial ties, and we have increasing consultations and relationships between our militaries. And all of those components have deepened during the course of our tenures here.
We had an excellent conversation about many regional issues, as well as some broader issues and challenges. We spent a lot of time talking about trade and commerce in the Asia Pacific region, and the United States and New Zealand were two of the initial members of the TPP coalition that is trying to create a high standards trade regime in the most dynamic and fastest-growing part of the world. New Zealand as a country with a small population but really good products has a great interest in making sure that markets are open and rules of the road are abided by when it comes to trade.
And so New Zealand has been a great partner on that process and we discussed a timeline whereby before the end of the year we’re able to get a document that can create jobs both in New Zealand and the United States and the other countries that are participating, and expand wealth for all parties concerned. And our hope is, is that by the time we see each other again in November when I travel to Asia that we should have something that we have consulted with Congress about that the public can take a look at, and we can make a forceful argument to go ahead and close the deal. But we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then.
We had a good discussion about some of the other issues that are facing the Asia Pacific region: the threat of North Korea and the need to continue to press on denuclearization there; the relationship with China, where we both agree that we welcome China’s peaceful rise and, at the same time, we discussed my very strong view that it is important for us to be able to resolve disputes like maritime disputes in accordance with international law, and encourage all parties concerned to maintain a legal framework for resolving issues as opposed to possible escalation that could have an impact on navigation and commerce.
We had a good conversation about climate change, where New Zealand I think has been an excellent partner with us and other economies, recognizing that this is a threat that none of us can solve individually, that we’re going to have to work on it together. And so we discussed our plans for putting forward robust action in 2015 with the upcoming Paris conference.
And we discussed the state of the world economy. New Zealand has been doing very well, in part, as John explained, because of the rebuilding after the devastating earthquake that had happened there, but also because of the outstanding growth in its agricultural sector where -- that’s one of the few countries that maybe can match us when it comes to agricultural productivity and the excellence of our products. But I think we share the view that it’s important to sustain economic growth worldwide and worldwide demand at a time when Europe, for example, is still having challenges. And that’s part of why something like the Trans-Pacific Partnership can be so important.
And, finally, we discussed some core security issues. I’m proud that my original home state of Hawaii is going to be welcoming a New Zealand ship coming into port for the first time in a couple of decades. And we’re very proud of that. I’m sure you’ll get a good welcome when they come. And although New Zealand obviously is a small country with a small armed forces, the cooperation that we have on intelligence issues, New Zealand’s excellent efforts when it comes to training and participating in peacekeeping operations makes it an invaluable partner. So we’re very appreciative of that.
So overall, it was wonderful to see John and his delegation. And I indicated to him that I would love to come to New Zealand, because I hear it’s really nice. (Laughter.) And I know the people are nice, because I’ve had a chance to meet them. So we’re going to be working with my scheduler to see what I can come up with if not this year, certainly before the end of my presidency. So, welcome.
PRIME MINISTER KEY: Let me be brief. Mr. President, firstly, thank you for the opportunity to be in the White House. Look, I think the relationship between New Zealand and the United States continues to go from strength to strength, and that’s in large part because of your leadership and your commitment to the New Zealand-U.S. relationship.
New Zealand and the United States have been the two partners I think in the Trans-Pacific Partnership that have always believed in the high-quality and competence of view. And I think that that can be achieved. And I think there’s more work to be done, but the prize at the end of those negotiations is one that’s worth it for both of our economies, and for the other team partners that would join us. So I think that’s a great objective.
We appreciate all the things you do, the leadership you show around the world. We know that’s it’s never an easy day in the office here in the Oval Office.
And, lastly, I think we had a very good discussion about maritime security. And certainly, New Zealand holds very strongly to the view that everyone has to observe the rule of international law, the law of the sea. And peace and stability in every region of the world is important. And it’s important to our two countries. So that’s probably enough for me. But thank you very much for having us here.
THE PRESIDENT: Excellent. Thank you very much, everybody.
THE PRESIDENT: We just love having New Zealand as a partner in general on a whole range of issues.
11:58 A.M. EDT