August 20,2012

Press Contact:

Communications Office
(202) 224-4515

Baucus Meets with New Zealand's Prime Minister, Trade and Economic Leaders on Trans-Pacific Partnership

Finance Chairman Seeks TPP Agreement that Boosts U.S. Economy, Spurs Job Growth

Auckland, New Zealand Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) met today with New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key to  pursue export opportunities for American businesses that would boost economic development and create jobs in the U.S.  Senator Baucus also discussed negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement (FTA).  Senator Baucus is pushing for an agreement that benefits American businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers, reduces barriers to trade and includes strong intellectual property protection. 

“Our economy will grow, and American businesses will create jobs as we strengthen our trade ties with countries like New Zealand.  The Asia Pacific region is a hotbed of economic growth, and we need to ensure the United States benefits from that growth and remains a key player in the arena,” Senator Baucus said.  “New Zealand is a key partner in the Trans-Pacific Partnership – one we need to help break down barriers to trade and support a strong agreement.”

Senator Baucus also met yesterday with New Zealand’s Trade Minister Tim Groser to seek opportunities for U.S. exporters and discuss TPP.  The U.S. is New Zealand’s third-largest trading partner; U.S. exports to New Zealand totaled $4.4 billion in 2010.  Major U.S. exports include aircraft, automobiles, medical devices and petroleum products.  Also a member of the World Trade Organization and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, New Zealand was an original participant in the TPP talks.

In 2009, Senator Baucus pushed the administration to reaffirm the United States’ role as a robust partner in the TPP negotiations, and he has continually called for the agreement to strengthen U.S. job-creating trade ties and include high-level standards for labor issues, environmental standards and intellectual property protection.  In 2011, with Japan, Mexico and Canada announcing their interest in joining the TPP negotiations, Senator Baucus said each country must be ready to quickly accept the TPP’s high-standard commitments.  Mexico and Canada will likely join the TPP this fall after congressional consultations conclude.  If Japan also joins the TPP, the total number of consumers across TPP countries would grow by 50 percent, and the participating countries would represent more than 40 percent of global GDP.

Senator Baucus will next head to the Mokai geothermal power plant, New Zealand's largest privately developed geothermal project, which is unique in that it is owned in part by the indigenous Maori people.  He will then travel to Japan on Wednesday to meet with political and business leaders.  Senator Baucus last traveled to Japan in 2004, when he pressed for an end to its ban on U.S. beef and explored the opportunity for expanded trade with the U.S.  More recently, he traveled to Russia in February to pursue export opportunities and discuss the U.S. establishing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia (the Finance Committee passed his PNTR bill in July 2012).  In early 2011, Baucus led a trade mission to Colombia and Brazil to promote U.S. exports and prepare for the debate over the FTA with Colombia that had not yet been approved.  Senator Baucus traveled to China in late 2010 to push China’s leaders on their currency undervaluation and boost American competitiveness.