Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been welcomed at the Élysées Palace in Paris with a guard of honour by the Republican Guard.
In the meeting room, they posed for photos and Macron spoke to Ardern in English, saying he was happy to have her in Europe.
They will meet for about an hour.
Macron voiced support for the trade negotiations after meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Élysées Palace this morning, saying it could set the standard for a “new generation” of trade agreements which included social responsibility.
He said he and Ardern had agreed that trade agreements should address social responsibility.
The European Council is expected to decide on the mandate for talks to begin in May and Ardern wanted to ensure Macron was on board because of sensitivities around agriculture in France. Ardern had urged him to let those issues be resolved through negotiations.
He thanked Ardern for an invitation to visit New Zealand – and spoke of the close relations between the two countries although there was some “friendly confrontation”
In rugby with a tour planned in June.
If he takes up the invitation it will be the first ever visit by a French President to New Zealand. In May Macron is due to visit New Caledonia before its self-rule referendum and then Australia, but hopes are low that he will be able to fit New Zealand in at that time.
In a statement after the meeting, the two leaders agreed to enhance bilateral trade – including “through the future negotiation of a balanced, mutually beneficial, progressive and inclusive free trade agreement between New Zealand and the European Union.”
The agreement specified that that should preserve the rights of government to regulate for public policy objectives – reflecting the concern of both the EU and New Zealand about Investor States Disputes Settlement processes.
But Macron’s concerns about terrorism were also reflected in an anti-terrorism clause in which the leaders committed to “upholding our fight against terrorism worldwide, particularly in the Middle-East, South-East Asia and Africa both on the ground and by sharing information on regional developments.”
Ardern is due to decide on the future of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in the near future.
Macron and Ardern held a press conference in the “winter garden” area of the Salle des fetes – the palace ball room at which state dinners and functions are held.
It was a far cry from the more industrial look in the Beehive, with multiple chandeliers and gilded cherubs gazing down from above.
She said that was a result of global uncertainty where people were looking for leadership.
She believed they were “natural partners”.
She reiterated her invitation to visit, saying she looked forward to reciprocating his hospitality.
Ardern went to Paris with business on her mind – seeking Macron’s support for a free trade deal with the EU. But it was also a relationship-building mission to ensure New Zealand has influential friends in the EU after it loses its primary champion – the United Kingdom.
Ardern will not meet Macron’s wife Brigitte or personal time, such as a dinner, with him but the 45 minutes allocated for the meeting was a positive sign.
Macron and Ardern can claim credit for forging ahead – Macron’s move late last year to halt all oil and gas production in France from 2040 was cited by Ardern when she announced there would be no future block offer permits for offshore exploration and mining.
Ardern’s meeting at the Élysées Palace was expected to canvas the free trade agreement between New Zealand and the EU, the unfolding situation after missile strikes by France, US and the UK in Syria. Ardern is hopeful that will act as a catalyst for change on the veto powers of the Security Council.
• Aged 40 and married to his former teacher Brigitte Trogneaux
• Was 39 when elected President of France, his first elected position.
• Adopted a climate-change motto of “Make the Planet Great Again” in an ironic dig at US President Donald Trump for pulling out of the Paris Agreement.