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New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern prepares to travel to US after recovering from COVID-19

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has recovered from the effects of COVID-19 and on Monday announced details of a changed trade mission to the United States.
The visit is aimed at expanding exports and attracting more tourists as the Pacific country seeks to fully open its borders after more than two years of restrictions.
The trip, which will take place in five cities, was called into question when Ms. Ardern contracted the virus a week ago, in the middle of a two-week isolation period that began when her partner Clark Gayford received a positive result.
Her departure late Monday will take place two days after the isolation is completed and postponed due to travel rules in the US COVID-19.

Ms. Ardern is scheduled to meet with senior U.S. Senate members when she visits Washington, but the expected meeting with President Joe Biden may now not take place due to health protocols.


“These days you’re skating with Kovid’s throws,” she told reporters. “It’s just an integral part of the world we live in.
“The issue we have here is just the Covid protocols, it doesn’t diminish our relationship at all.” The trip will focus on trade and tourism, but Ms. Ardern also wants to address Pacific security issues.
“I can’t imagine a more important moment for political interaction with the United States,” she said.
“With the Pacific, we have called for a return. The United States has been a current force for a number of years, but what we have seen in recent years has focused on other home affairs or other regions a little less than ours. We have asked for that return.” .

Other events included a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York and a keynote speech at Harvard University.


Ms. Ardern’s visit comes at a time when US President Joe Biden is on a five-day trip to South Korea and Japan. Her public agenda does not include a meeting with Biden, who is expected to return to Washington on Tuesday.
“New Zealand’s relationship with the United States is one of our strongest and most significant. This mission will include political and security engagement, as well as tourism and trade development,” Ardern said in a statement Monday.
Bilateral trade between the countries amounted to about 12 billion dollars (17 billion Australian dollars) in 2021, with annual growth of an average of 5 percent over the past 15 years, according to official data.
Travelers from the U.S. were New Zealand’s third-largest tourist market, accounting for 10 percent of total arrivals before COVID-19.
“As travelers plan their visits a few months before arriving in New Zealand in the summer, now is the best time to be seen in the U.S. market so Americans know we are open to business and travel,” Ms. Ardern said.

The closure of the New Zealand border for non-citizens in March 2020 helped keep the number of COVID-19s relatively low. Ms Ardern said earlier this month that the country would fully open its border by the end of July.


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