In a speech given on Monday to the Pacific Islands Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the Acting New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr. Rob Taylor, argued that shared values, not just shared interests, are driving the renewed strategic partnership between the United States and New Zealand.
According to Mr. Taylor, the 2010 Wellington Declaration provided a "key turning point in United States-New Zealand relations" that has enabled both countries "to move beyond policy differences that emerged in the mid-1980s" and instead "focus on the future with emphasis on areas of cooperation."
More than two years later, Mr. Taylor believes that the U.S.-NZ strategic partnership has moved into high gear with both Wellington and Washington confident that this period of renewed cooperation "will endure."
So, can the strategic partnership get any stronger? The High Commissioner's talk certainly gave the impression that it can -- especially if the Obama Administration follows through on its much hyped Asia pivot.
Looking ahead, Mr. Taylor stresses that "on-going and future cooperation between the two nations" will place "particular emphasis on the South Pacific." This includes investing further in joint initiatives in the region, such as renewable energy, disaster response, climate change adaptation, and enhanced dialogue on regional security.
South Pacific fisheries will be an area of particular focus. Mr. Taylor says that his country will be working with the United States "to enhance Pacific capability to catch and process more of their own fisheries resources" and with the United States, Australia, and France to "to provide maritime surveillance of Pacific Island states, in particular their Exclusive Economic Zones. "
These efforts will seek to prevent the collapse of one of the world's most important natural resources. As an analyst with the Pacific Partnerships Initiative at CSIS recently pointed out, Pacific fisheries now account for more than 50 percent of the global marine catch and represent the "largest economic interest shared by the United States and the Pacific Islands." So, in this case, shared interests and shared values appear to be driving US-NZ cooperation.
Eddie Walsh is an accredited foreign correspondent. He currently serves as a fellow at the Federation of American Scientists and president of the Pacific Islands Society. Follow him on either Twitter or Tumblr.