New Zealands Ardern woos Joe Biden after threatening to block UK from trade group

CPTPP would benefit from UK involvement claims trade expert

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Ms Ardern spoke to the US President on Friday morning ahead of hosting an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting on Covid recovery. It comes after New Zealand’s Prime Minister appeared to issue a threat over the UK’s attempts to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in a speech on Wednesday.

The call between Ms Ardern and the US President is the first time the two leaders have spoken since Mr Biden was elected.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister stressed the importance of the 21-member APEC group working together to navigate a way out of the pandemic in the call ahead of the meeting.

She said afterwards: “The United States and New Zealand share many common values and interests, including a commitment to an open and rules-based Indo-Pacific.

“I raised the importance of strengthening the economic architecture in the region post-Covid in order to facilitate greater trade and investment.”

A senior Biden administration official added that the US President will use the forum to demonstrate his commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The official said: “As one of the first opportunities he has to engage with many of these leaders, he will make clear that the US has an enduring commitment to the region.

“He will put forward a vision for the region that is based on our values.”

Ms Ardern’s call with Mr Biden comes after she appeared to issue a warning over Britain’s attempts to join the CPTPP.

Boris Johnson has made joining the trading bloc – made up of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam – a key focus of his post-Brexit vision for the UK.

In her speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Ms Ardern said: “Last month we joined consensus on the formation of a working group to negotiate the UK’s accession to CPTPP.

“Other economies will be able to join CPTPP too.

“CPTPP is our highest quality agreement.

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“Those aspiring to join will have to be able to meet its high standards.”

Speaking about international relations after the pandemic, she added: “Governments will need to re-commit to supporting an open and rules-based regional order; one that’s more sustainable and resilient.

“And we must recommit to doing what we can, to encourage that change.

“We will do so in ways that are pragmatic, that advance our interests, and that are consistent with New Zealand’s values.”

Ms Ardern’s reference to countries needing to respect a “rules-based regional order” comes after the EU and the US have warned failure by the UK to properly the Northern Ireland Protocol would mean breaking international law.

They claim failure to implement customs checks would result in a breach of international law.

Mr Biden has also warned any actions by Britain which risk undermining the Good Friday Agreement will end hopes of a trade deal with the US.

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