Ardern to Meet with Biden over Regional Engagement

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would meet face-to-face with United States President Joe Biden for the first time on Tuesday for talks on the US boosting its engagement in the Asia Pacific.

Speaking to media in Washington, DC, Ardern said US engagement in the region was “top of mind” in her discussions with Biden at the White House.

“We’ll be encouraging the United States to really continue and strengthen engagement in our region including economic engagement, which is really critical to our region,” Ardern said. 

Ardern also said that the meeting is important for the relationship between the two countries even if she did not expect new concrete measures as a result.  

“It’s not about announceables. It’s not about new initiatives. It is actually about that relationship,” Arden said. 

Last week, Ardern urged the US to consider going back to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) as a way of broadly engaging economically in the region.  

However, the Biden administration did not seek to join the CPTPP because of opposition in Congress and concerns it could lead to US jobs being shipped overseas. 

Citing the need to protect American jobs and wages, former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the CPTPP’s forebearer the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2017.  

The US has also declined to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s biggest trade bloc comprising of 15 signatories, including China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia.  

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