14 Nov 2018

PM to challenge US tariffs rationale at summit

10:05 am on 14 November 2018

The Prime Minister is set to renew New Zealand's case to be exempted from US tariffs on steel and aluminium when she meets the US Vice President later today.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she expected to raise why a strong friend like New Zealand was being punished by the tariffs. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Jacinda Ardern is in Singapore for three days at the East Asia Summit and has been specifically requested to sit next to Mike Pence at the summit leaders' dinner.

Mr Pence is standing in for President Donald Trump at the summit, and Ms Ardern said along with talk of regional security issues she expected to raise why a strong friend such as New Zealand is being punished by the tariffs, which were brought in to protect the US Steel from cheap Asian and European makers.

"From our perspective we don't think those tariffs should apply to us and that's one of the reasons we have pretty much consistently raised it."

Ms Ardern will also meet a range of regional leaders including the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, along with an informal meeting with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.

She said she intended to raise human rights, climate change and the need for rules-based international relations in meetings with regional leaders.

"Multilateralism for New Zealand is incredibly important, that a rules-based order is incredibly important and you can apply that to issues of trade or you can apply to that issues such as the South China Sea."

The summit is expected to support plans for a broad based trade deal - the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) - which would combine the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations and the six countries, including New Zealand, with whom the group has free trade deals.

Ms Ardern will travel to Papua New Guinea at the weekend for the APEC summit.

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