Maui Business

Hirono Bill Strengthens Economic Ties Between US and New Zealand

August 6, 2018, 8:22 AM HST
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Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i) and Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) bill (S. 2245) to extend trade and investor visas to New Zealand citizens was signed into law by the President. The bill, known as the Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors (KIWI) Act, was unanimously passed by the House last week.

“New Zealand visitors supported over 2,000 Hawai‘i jobs last year alone and continue to build on our strong cultural and economic ties to the Indo-Pacific region,” Senator Hirono said. “This newly signed law will help spur further job creation in Hawaii and across the United States, and reaffirm the importance of our close and longstanding relations with New Zealand.”

The passage of the KIWI ACT comes as the United States and New Zealand marked a milestone 75 years of diplomatic relations last year. The bill would allow New Zealand citizens to apply for trade (E-1) and investor (E-2) temporary entry visas.

New Zealand is one of our nation’s important strategic and economic partners. New Zealand is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance together with the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada and Australia but is the only member of the alliance whose citizens are not eligible to apply for E-1 and E-2 visas.

Total foreign direct investment from New Zealand to the United States is valued at over half a billion dollars. However, New Zealand businesses have found that the lack of access to E-1 and E-2 visas has hampered their ability to increase trade and investment in the United States. By allowing New Zealanders to apply for these visas, the KIWI Act aims to expand business and investment opportunities between the two nations.

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The KIWI Act is supported by the Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i, United States, the New Zealand Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand.

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The KIWI Act is also cosponsored by Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). Representatives Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) sponsored the House companion legislation, H.R. 3324.

 

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