US extends work visits for NZ students
September 10, 2007

WELLINGTON, New Zealand --New Zealand and the United States signed an expanded program for New Zealand students to work in the U.S. on Monday as officials from the two countries met for talks on security, stability and economic development in the Asia-Pacific region.

New Zealand-U.S. Council executive director Stephen Jacobi welcomed the new arrangement that extends the time New Zealand tertiary students can work and travel in the U.S. from four months to one year.

The agreement was signed at the U.S.-N.Z. Partnership Forum in Auckland by Christopher Hill, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and New Zealand's head of foreign affairs and trade, Simon Murdoch.

A similar arrangement was signed between the U.S. and Australia last week.

New Zealand is pressing for a bilateral free trade deal with the U.S. and has strong support among U.S. business leaders, but so far no talks on that issue have been arranged.

Neighbor Australia has had a bilateral free trade agreement with the U.S. since January 2006.

Hill, also the U.S. envoy to the six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear issue, has played a key role in improving U.S.-New Zealand relations over the past year.

The U.S. focus with respect to New Zealand was to work on a trade and investment framework agreement.

"If all these things go forward, there will be a logic to do more and I think we could end up with an FTA," he told reporters.

"The stage is now set to expand our engagement further and solidify our cooperation on a really wide range of issues," he earlier told the business forum.

Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said there are strong economic arrangements between the two nations, "but we can do better."

"We hope here that we can talk about ways we can expand trade and ... engage in investment and trade beyond whatever the political arrangements or trade agreements will be in the future," he told National Radio.

Donohue said the talks will also focus on the "geopolitical issues on which we all have a common set of agendas ... dealing with the questions of terrorism and security ... at the same time keeping open and free societies to the extent that is possible."

He said the U.S. has an "extraordinary (trade) relationship with New Zealand and it shouldn't get anything but better." ... _students/