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Foreign relations of New Zealand

New Zealand's foreign policy is oriented chiefly toward developed democratic nations and emerging Pacific economies. The country's major political parties have generally agreed on the broad outlines of foreign policy, and the current coalition government has been active in multilateral fora on issues of recurring interest to New Zealand--trade liberalization, disarmament, and arms control. New Zealand values the United Nations and its participation in that organization.

It also participates in the World Trade Organization (WTO); World Bank; International Monetary Fund (IMF); Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developmen (OECD); International Energy Agency; Asian Development Bank; South Pacific Forum; The Pacific Community; Colombo Plan; Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC); INTELSAT; and the International Whaling Commission. New Zealand also is an active member of the Commonwealth. Despite the 1985 rupture in the ANZUS alliance, New Zealand has maintained good working relations with the United States and Australia on a broad array of international issues.

In the past, New Zealand's geographic isolation and its agricultural economy's general prosperity tended to minimize public interest in world affairs. However, growing global trade and other international economic events have made New Zealanders increasingly aware of their country's dependence on stable overseas markets.

New Zealand's economic involvement with Asia has been increasingly important through expanding trade with the growing economies of Asia. New Zealand is a "dialogue partner" with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and an active participant in APEC.

As a charter member of the Colombo Plan, New Zealand has provided Asian countries with technical assistance and capital. It also contributes through the Asian Development Bank and through UN programs and is a member of the UN Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific.

New Zealand has focused its bilateral economic assistance resources on projects in the South Pacific island states, especially on Bougainville. The country's long association with Samoa (formerly known as Western Samoa), reflected in a treaty of friendship signed in 1962, and its close association with Tonga have resulted in a flow of immigrants and visitors under work permit schemes from both countries. New Zealand administers Tokelau (formerly known as the Tokelau Islands) and provides foreign policy and economic support when requested for the freely associated self-governing states of the Cook Islands and Niue. Inhabitants of these areas hold New Zealand citizenship.

In 1947, New Zealand joined Australia, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States to form the South Pacific Commission, a regional body to promote the welfare of the Pacific region. New Zealand has been a leader in the organization. In 1971, New Zealand joined the other independent and self-governing states of the South Pacific to establish the South Pacific Forum (now known as the Pacific Islands Forum), which meets annually at the "heads of government" level.

Close defence cooperation with the United States and Australia during the second world war lead to the ANZUS defence pact between the three countries. However, concern about French nuclear testing in the pacific at Mururoa Atoll, and about the presence of nuclear warheads or reactors on US ships visiting New Zealand, contributed to growing antinuclear sentiment in New Zealand. Under the Labour Party government of David Lange, this lead to the passage in New Zealand of antinuclear legislation, preventing visits by ships carrying nuclear weapons or powered by nuclear reactors. In theory, warships that did not fall into this category were not blocked. However, New Zealand insisted on direct confirmation that a ship was not nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered, something which clashed with the United States' security policy of "neither confirming nor denying" nuclear capability on specific ships. Because the United States would not reveal a ship's nuclear status, New Zealand could not determine whether the ship met New Zealand's legal requirements, and so would not grant permission for a visit. This effectively ended visits by United States ships to New Zealand. The US took the position that this legislation effectively prevented practical alliance cooperation. New Zealand, in contrast, claimed that the removal of nuclear weapons from the Pacific was actually beneficial to the alliance's goal of regional security.

After increasingly acrimonious debates, the United States formally suspended its ANZUS security obligations to New Zealand in August 1986. This suspension remains in effect today, although the US no longer carries nuclear weapons aboard its surface naval vessels. In recent years, there has been some debate in New Zealand about removing the antinuclear legislation, with the ACT New Zealand party commenting in favour of doing so and the National Party "considering" it. However, public opinion remains strongly in favour of the ban.

Summary of International Organization Participation
ABEDA, ANZUS (US suspended security obligations to NZ on August 11, 1986), APEC, ARF (dialogue partner), AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, Commonwealth, CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NSG, OECD, OPCW, PCA, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNAMSIL, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIK, UNMISET, UNMOP, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO

(Source: CIA World Factbook, 2003 edition [1])

Disputes - international: territorial claim in Antarctica (Ross Dependency)

See also : New Zealand