The prime minister says there is goodwill on both sides to make a White House visit happen while she’s in the United States.

No captionPhoto: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern leaves on a trade mission to the States tonight, but a meeting with President Joe Biden is yet to be confirmed.

Ardern is back at the Beehive after a week at home with Covid-19.

She told Morning Report a visit to the White House hasn’t been confirmed because complex protocols around Covid clearance need to be met.

“I think it’s fair to say I’m probably the only leader that I know of who has probably gone into the States with a Covid infection in such close proximity so it just means there’s just a few extra things for us to work through.

“I’d say the rules are generally around picking up infections rather than dealing with existing ones but as I say, I’m probably in a unique set of circumstances.”

If she does visit the president, Ardern says trade and the Ukraine war will be on the agenda.

“The reason that it is not just me going into the United States but a business and trade delegation is because of course, New Zealand is in a competitive environment at the moment, the countries are simultaneously reopening, the United States is our third biggest by arrivals tourism market – it was in 2019.”

Undoubtedly on the political agenda, Ardern says, is New Zealand’s call for United States to join the economic architecture of our region.

“CPTPP, that really important trade agreement which has meant we’ve reduced tariffs and seen greater entry for our products into markets like Japan, is still the agreement we want the United States to be a part of but to see them answer that call with the IPEF (Indo-Pacific economic framework) framework is really important.”

New Zealand wants to be part of the early stages of the IPEF as it means helping to shape its direction, Ardern said.

“So there are a few more formalities to go through but at this stage we’re really very much joining in some of those discussions.”

Sitting alongside the traditional forums that New Zealand has been a part of, are quad meetings between India, Japan, Australia and the United States.

“Our view is, so long as these grouping represent and champion the values that we share, and we have good relationships with every one of those individual members, then we have no issue with their existence and nor do they deflect from the relationships…”

The second thing Ardern will discuss with Biden will be the war in Ukraine.

Australian election

Labor’s Anthony Albanese ousted Scott Morrison on Saturday night.

Ardern says her new Australian counterpart is well aware 501 deportations are an issue that have caused friction.

She has spoken to Albanese twice since he was elected.

Albanese was asked about 501 deportees by international media, Ardern said, and he recognised there are elements in the policy that have caused friction in the relationship.

Ardern says neither of the major Australian parties would remove the deportation rule, but there may be a way to change how it’s applied.

“Look, New Zealand deports as well. It’s the way it’s been applied where we’ve had individuals who have had no connection to New Zealand and that was the part where you saw the prime-minister elect recognise.”

While there was “no question” the cost of living was a debate and issue in the Australian election, Ardern says what she found fascinating was the degree to which the issue of climate change came through.