Newsletter Jan 15, 2016

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US | NZ Council Newsletter
Presented by the
US | NZ Council
January 15, 2016

Happy New Year to all. We look forward to a very exciting and productive 2016 — for the Council and US-NZ relations in general. The Council has an ambitious and exciting agenda for the year. We very much look forward to working with Ambassador Groser and with all of you.
Thank you for all your support.



Business leaders doubt trade vote happens before elections
January 15, 2016

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue presented a series of benchmarks that must be cleared before the TPP can be brought up in the House and Senate. Most problematic is the push by Republican leaders to pass all 12 annual appropriations bills through the regular process – which could consume critical floor time between now and the summer recess in July, when lawmakers will start an extended break for the presidential nominating conventions. Donohue reaffirmed the Chamber would aggressively pursue completion of the TPP this year as well as completing an agreement with the European Union.

Read More:  The Hill

Oil and China concerns smother markets
January 15, 2016

Concern about low oil prices and China’s growth prospects has driven New Zealand’s share market trend lower, but the decline was modest compared with the falls on many major markets. The local market started off weaker, taking its lead from an overnight sell-off on Wall Street that saw the main S&P 500 index move into what traders said was “correction” territory. By close, the S&P/NZX 50 Index was down 42.58 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 6109.29 but off its session low of 6082.1.

Read More:  NZ Herald

Export-Import Bank earned a profit of $432 million for taxpayers last year despite shutdown
January 14, 2016

Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg will be making a campaign this year to reassure U.S. exporters and their foreign buyers that the bank is back in business.  The Bank, which helps U.S. companies sell their products abroad, reportedly, earned a profit of $432 million for taxpayers last year despite a shutdown after congressional critics allowed its authorization to lapse. It is primarily funded by interest and fees on loans it makes to foreign buyers of U.S. goods and other aid for U.S. exporters.

Read More: LA Times

Analysis: Asia Pacific is key to Obama’s final year foreign policy focus
January 13, 2016

President Obama’s final State of the Union address had a strong international focus — setting an ambitious foreign agenda for “American leadership” in 2016.  Of all these arenas, Asia-Pacific stands out with the Obama team wanting to secure congressional passage of the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 other markets.  This would be a victory for the White House, as TPP also includes a significant geopolitical component to help advance the reorient of U.S. international policy toward the Asia-Pacific region and other strategic high-growth markets.

Read More: NBR

Froman, Vilsack pushing TPP as a ‘strategic imperative’ for US
January 13, 2016

As President Obama used his State of the Union speech to urge Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership, his point man on trade was out drumming up support for the agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told an audience at the Wilson Center that momentum for the trade pact with 11 other Pacific Rim nations has been building since its details were released in October. Froman credits this momentum with keeping the public informed on the facts. Among the facts cited by Froman was that TPP will cut over 18,000 foreign taxes on U.S. exports, including agricultural goods, and that the accord will support thousands of high-paying jobs in the U.S.  Separately, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also talked up the virtues of the agreement in a conference call.  Vilsack said if Congress rejects TPP it would give China an opening to negotiate “an all-Asian agreement” with weaker labor and environmental standards.

Read More: Agri Pulse

House Chairman Brady cautious about TPP Prospects
January 12, 2016

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is sounding a cautious tone about the Asia-Pacific trade deal’s chances in Congress. The House Ways and Means Committee chairman said that passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement between the United States and 11 other nations “is difficult but doable” during an event recently.

Read More: The Hill

Government confirms plans to sign TPP in Auckland
January 13, 2016

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said New Zealand has offered to host the signing in early February. The New Zealand government said that the arrangements for the signing are still being finalized as TPP partner countries completed their domestic procedures to sign it.

Read More: Radio NZ

Pacific Trade Pact set to give big boost to Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia
January 6, 2016

Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia are set to get a big economic boost from a sweeping Pacific trade agreement concluded in October, while the U.S. and other North American countries would see much smaller gains.  If the Pacific agreement is enacted, Vietnam would get the biggest percentage boost to its economy—about 10% by 2030—as its textiles and apparel industry gets new preferential access to the U.S. and other major markets.  Japan would see extra economic growth of 2.7% by 2030 while the U.S. could expect additional economic growth of 0.4% by 2030, according to the study, released by the World Bank.

Read More: WSJ

Japan to seek early approval of TPP deal
January 3, 2016

The Japanese government is aiming to seek an early approval of an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiative. The signing ceremony will be held either in the US or New Zealand. New Zealand is in charge of compiling the text of the accord. After the signing, Japan will seek their parliament’s approval of the accord and also submit bills to provide support for farmers.

Read More: Business Standard

United States- New Zealand

‘No plans’ for Obama to visit NZ
January 10, 2015

There are no plans in place for President Obama to visit New Zealand, the Government says, despite local rumors that he could be lining up a round of golf in Northland. Duty Minister Michael Woodhouse said “at this stage” there were no current plans for what would be a historic visit.

Read More: NZ Herald

Former NZ ambassador to US Tim Francis loses cancer battle
January 4, 2016

Former New Zealand ambassador to the United States, Tim Francis, has died at the age of 87 in Wellington. The diplomat, described by former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer as a “subtle and clever operator in diplomacy”, lost a battle with cancer and passed away on Saturday.  Francis’ distinguished career in New Zealand’s Foreign Service culminated with his posting to Washington as ambassador to the United States from 1988 to 1992.

Read More: Stuff

New Zealand

New Zealand will no longer be able to watch US Netflix
January 15, 2016

Netflix subscribers in New Zealand frequently use proxies, or servers that facilitate access to internet content not available locally, to watch popular shows such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Netflix has said that it would clamp down on these proxies or unblockers in a few weeks.

The announcement comes just a week after Netflix went live in more than 130 countries, covering almost the entire globe except China. Netflix said their goal is to provide content around the world that is the same as much as possible.

Read More: NZ Herald

Family-owned Hawke’s Bay wineries to tackle US and China markets
January 14, 2016
Boutique family-owned wineries in Hawke’s Bay are starting to think big. In the past few months, at least two wineries have announced they plan to tackle big overseas markets in order to increase their presence around the world. But multi-millionaire Sir Graeme Avery said breaking into major markets, such as China and the United States, is no easy feat. This push into new markets in the United States and China opens up wineries to engage in new partnership and advance distribution.
Read More: Stuff

The Best Italian Wine Comes From… New Zealand?
January 13, 2016

When it comes to wine, New Zealand is best known for its fruity sauvignon blanc and sun-kissed pinot noirs. They’re delicious, easy to drink, and aggressively marketed to an international audience. At the recent Air New Zealand Wine Awards (ANZWA), a wine competition judged by local and international judges, New Zealand winemakers took home Gold and Silver medals for multiple Italian varietals, including the obscure Marzemino, a light, plummy red mainly produced in northern Italy and not especially known beyond it.

Read more: Conde Nast

House hunting? This is 2016’s most pricey country
January 13, 2016

On a price to income basis, the Fitch rating agency identifies New Zealand as the most expensive country in the world to buy property.  Housing prices in most countries looks set to keep rising this year, Fitch said in a new report on Wednesday, due mainly to low mortgage rates and improving employment support growth. Those looking to buy down under will need to dig particularly deep. Fitch says Australia and New Zealand will remain expensive as low interest rates mean prices are set to remain elevated.

Read More: CNBC

New Zealand court approves Kim Dotcom’s extradition to the US
January 8, 2013

A district court in Auckland, New Zealand, ruled that Kim Dotcom, founder of the Mega upload file sharing site, can be extradited to the United States to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. The ruling comes almost four years after heavily-armed members of New Zealand’s elite anti-terrorist police unit and dozens of other officers raided Dotcom’s mansion west of Auckland at the behest of the FBI.

Read More: WSWS

Helen Clark remains tight-lipped on United Nations secretary-general job
January 6, 2016

Former Prime Minster Helen Clark is keeping mum on the idea of standing for the top United Nations job this year, saying the “challenging” state of the world means a particular skill set would be needed to fit the position. Clark, who has not announced whether she hopes to succeed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was on the Routeburn Track on Wednesday morning to meet Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust members and walk tracks in the area and discuss rock wren populations.

Read More:  Stuff

NZ animal drug company opens in US
January 4, 2016

A New Zealand animal drug company will open its first factory in the United States this week and immediately says it will need more staff. Argenta, which has its head office in Manurewa, will start operations at its AML Riverside plant in Fort Dodge, Iowa, today. It bought the plant from animal health pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica last year.

Read more: 3 News

Fifteen times New Zealand excelled in 2015
December 30, 2015

New Zealand has made quite the splash this year, winning the Rugby World Cup, generally excelling at sport and cementing a position as one of the world’s most beautiful countries to live and to visit. The country is often cited by the travel industry as a top destination and regularly comes out top in terms of quality of life measures, education, income and all that jazz.

Read More: Stuff


Asia-Pacific unlikely to drive global growth
January 14, 2016

Expansion in the Asia-Pacific region’s developing economies has plateaued and can no longer be relied upon to drive global growth, the United Nations said Thursday. The zone — which includes all regional nations except the advanced markets of Japan, Australia and New Zealand — grew by an estimated 4.5 percent in 2015.

Read More: Global Post

NZ ambassador: Hundreds of Syrians won’t make it through the night
January 12, 2016

New Zealand’s ambassador to the United Nations has warned 400 people could starve to death overnight unless they are evacuated from the under siege Syrian city of Madaya. An urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council took place in New York on Tuesday after both New Zealand’s and Spain’s permanent representatives called for closed consultations on the humanitarian crisis facing Syria.

Read More: Stuff


Spoiled for choice as public asked to decide favorite New Zealand sporting moment of 2015
January 14, 2016

Beauden Barrett’s Rugby World Cup final try or Grant Elliott’s last ball six against South Africa or Lydia Ko’s major triumph or Ross Taylor’s 290 against Australia? The choice is up to the judges as the Halberg Awards release the 10 finalists for the Sporting Moment of the Year Award which is decided by public voting. Last year was memorable on many fronts and the highlights have made the short-list with the winner to be announced at the Halberg Awards dinner in Auckland next month.

Read More: Stuff