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New Zealand: PM warns TPP deal could be put on ice

PM warns TPP deal could be put on ice

Patrick O’Meara, Economics Correspondent -

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is warning the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal could be put on ice if no deal is done soon.

Mr Key has been in China and Myanmar this week for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ meeting and the East Asia Summit and said there was "a window of opportunity" until July or August next year to get the deal done.

"But if it doesn’t happen by then, you never say never - but it becomes a lot more difficult."

However, Mr Key said he remained upbeat after personal assurances from United States President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that they were keen to see the TPP become a reality.

"I might be disappointed but Mr Obama said to me at dinner he’s got a pretty good feeling about the TPP... There’s definitely momentum as a result of those talks."

Selling more and more to China appears to be New Zealand’s sole trade option, with the Pacific-wide trade deal stuck and talks with South Korea and India making sputtering progress.

New Zealand further cemented its relationship with China, with John Key travelling to the western city of Chengdu to open a fifth diplomatic post.

Mr Key said New Zealand would "continue to actively explore opportunities for trade and investment" in its areas of expertise, including aviation, agribusiness, food, and enviromental technologies.

China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth more than $20 billion a year. The Government aims to lift that to $30 billion by 2020.

Northern Employers and Manufacturers chief executive Kim Campbell said New Zealand is well-liked in Asia and could even afford to walk away from a mediocre TPP deal on agricultural access.

 source: Radio NZ